Revered for her activism and relatable personality, Princess Diana was an icon of the 20th century. Decades after her tragic passing, her legacy lives on in the places and people she touched.
The Travel Team recently had the opportunity to provide travel and logistical support for the upcoming Broadway musical, Diana: The Musical, an homage to her life and impact. Premiering on Netflix October 1 before opening on Broadway in November, this first-of-its-kind landmark musical event brings us face to face with one of the 20th century’s most compelling figures. Along with developing a travel itinerary, coordinating hotel stays, and managing the guest experience for the cast and crew, we also created “bubble environments” to limit outside interactions while the cast and crew filmed at the Longacre Theatre.
Now, in honor of the late Lady Di, we’ve compiled a list of must-visit venues that mark significant chapters in her life.
Kensington Palace, located in the heart of London, was Diana’s home during her marriage to Prince Charles and a focal point for the outpouring of grief after her death.
Here, visitors will be able to see a small exhibition dedicated to the Princess as well as some of her most famous outfits and dresses. Certain parts of the historic palace grounds are open to the public, allowing guests to stroll the same paths the Princess once did.
Of particular note is Diana’s Memorial Garden. Formerly known as the Sunken Garden, it was one of the Princess’s favorite parts of the palace. Fittingly, this past July Diana’s statue was unveiled here, commemorating what would have been her 60th birthday.
A two-hour drive from London, the Althorp Estate was Diana’s family home. Overseen since 1992 by Charles, Ninth Earl of Spencer, the estate and its surroundings have been uncompromisingly sustained since Diana’s death and remain a testament to her life and legacy.
The Oval Lake has undergone extensive redesigns over the years. While visitors can’t visit the island at the center of the lake where Diana is buried, they can leave messages for the Princess at a beautiful stone memorial that sits across from it.
During the summer months, guests can also stroll Althorp’s magnificent grounds. The 500-year-old estate comprises 13,000 acres of rolling fields and greenery. The estate’s mansion boasts inspiring collections of furniture and sculpture.
St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey
Top tourist attractions in their own right, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey serve to bookend the Princess’s story. The two famous churches are indelibly intertwined with her life and legacy.
Passing beneath the Baroque-era masonry of the Cathedral, visitors can retrace the steps Diana took on her wedding day in 1981. Officially becoming a Princess as the world watched, her 20-foot train glided over the stairs with each graceful step towards her future.
Meanwhile, the Gothic arches of Westminster hold more plaintive memories, as the Abbey was the site of Diana’s funeral and much public mourning in 1997.
Diana Memorial Fountain
Located in Hyde Park, the Diana Memorial Fountain is meant to symbolize the dual aspects of Diana’s life, with water cascading down in two directions until the flows pool into each other in relative calm.
The work was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth in 2004 and is a spectacular marriage of traditional architecture and modern technology, continuing the fountain’s theme of duality.
More importantly, the fountain is meant to reflect Diana’s openness, with three footbridges allowing visitors to admire the flowing waters before proceeding on to the fountain center.
The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
For travelers who might be short on time during their stay, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk is a great way to pay homage to the late icon while visiting some of the famous buildings and locations in London.
Marked by 90 plaques placed along the ground, the seven-mile path takes visitors through four of the eight Royal Parks: St. Jame’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens. The walk also passes by the palaces of Buckingham and Kensington, affording travelers a great opportunity to glimpse the Royal Mews and the Diana Memorial Playground.
At the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace, the two coaches that carried Diana to and from St. Paul’s on her wedding day are on display. Guests can also view historic royal carriages and visit the stables. Meanwhile, the Diana Memorial Playground honors the Princess’s dedication to helping children through her charity work. Located next to her former home in Kensington Palace, the playground receives over one million visitors each year.
Highgrove House, Gloucester
Located in Gloucestershire, England, Highgrove House is one of several residences owned by Prince Charles. The mansion, which the Princess helped decorate after her marriage to Charles in 1981, is an important part of her story and was featured heavily in season four of the Netflix series, The Crown.
While the residence is private, the immaculately maintained gardens are open to the public, either in person or virtually. Visitors can also purchase fresh produce from the garden, making Highgrove House a farmer’s market with a nostalgic backstory to boot.
Harrods and Harvey Nichols
For those looking to glimpse a more personal side of Diana’s public life, a trip to Harrods and Harvey Nichols is in order. Diana was known to frequent a restaurant on the fifth floor of Harvey Nichols and often dined at San Lorenzo, which is right around the corner from Harrods.
At the time of her death, Harrods was owned by Mohammed Al-Fayed, father of Diana’s boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed, who was also killed in the fateful car accident that took the Princess’s life. In the wake of the tragedy, Mohammed erected a shrine in Harrods’ lower level, which still stands to this day. It contains various photos of the couple as well as a bronze statue of the two dancing. Visitors can sign a condolence book to pay their respects to the late lovers.
A must-visit for any fan of the Princess, Cafe Diana is just across the street from Kensington Palace. The manager, Fouad Fattah, remembers Diana well and recalls how she would frequent the little cafe from time to time—sometimes with her sons, William and Harry, and at other times, alone for a cappuccino. Visitors can dine near walls decorated with photos of the Princess.
Why Book in Advance
Given the state of travel and the continued pandemic, we advise travelers to book in advance for the best rates on airfare and hotel rooms. Booking in advance also provides flexibility in the event a certain part of your trip needs to be rescheduled.
For those embarking on a Diana pilgrimage, booking in advance is even more crucial. Sites like Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral are open to the public year-round. However, many of the places with which the Princess shared a more personal connection (such as Althorp Estate) are only open to the public during the summer or select months throughout the year.
And with series like The Crown and the upcoming Diana: The Musical rekindling the world’s passion for the much-beloved figure, tourism to these places could increase significantly.
How The Travel Team Can Help
At The Travel Team, we pride ourselves on helping you make the best decisions and navigate the travel landscape, even at its trickiest.
Our expert travel agents can help you plan an itinerary around a specific goal or experience, coordinating ground and air travel, hotel stays, and access to desired locations, all while ensuring your safety in accordance with the pandemic protocols and restrictions.