Mixed Reviews for Princess Diana Memorial
The memorial – an understated oval granite ring of flowing water – will get its official debut next week, in an official ceremony with Queen Elizabeth , Prince Charles and other members of Diana's family, including her sons Prince William, 22, and Prince Harry, 19.
But the Hyde Park structure was filled with water Tuesday for an press preview, allowing passersby their first glimpse of the memorial fountain. And the opinions from ordinary Britons – whose taxes paid for the $6.5 million structure – were decidedly mixed.
"We should be grateful we have something at last," noted one observer, actor Maitland Chandler. "But whether it's doing her justice, I am not too sure. It should be her children who are opening it, not the Queen."
The fountain has two streams of water tumbling down each side from its source – meant to reflect aspects of the late princess's personality, explains Seattle-based landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson, who designed the piece. One side is a "slow, rock and roll, sensuous piece," ending in a calm pool, while the other side is an "effervescent brook" cascading down.
Rosa Monckton, who chaired the government-backed committee that chose the plans, defended the tranquil memorial as a fitting tribute.
"I particularly didn't want to have a classical fountain that you stare at, something that becomes a spectacle," Monckton said. "So much of (Diana's) life was a spectacle and this circle of water is perfect for her. It is somewhere children can play, there is rushing water and calmness – all quite symbolic of her life."