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Remembering Diana

Agosto 2017
Sono passati 20 anni dalla morte di Lady D, una scomparsa che ha significato molto per i britannici. E tanti sono i luoghi che la ricordano: uno di questi è il Diana Memorial Playground all’interno di Kensington Gardens vicino alla casa che era di Diana, e ispirato alle fantastiche storie di Peter Pan.

di George Walmsley

File audio:

Lady Diana
Lady Diana
The Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens ©The Royal Parks
The Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens ©The Royal Parks

Speaker: Derek Allen (Standard British accent)

20 years ago a dramatic event took place. On the night of August 31st, 1997 Diana, Princess of Wales and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash in Paris. Diana was the ex-wife of Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, and the mother of his sons, William and Harry.


The British public’s reaction to the news was even more dramatic. According to some observers, the country entered a period of mass hysteria. There was an increase in the number of suicides, particularly among women the same age as Diana, who was 36. Other observers believe that this hysteria was the creation of Britain’s tabloid newspapers. As people placed thousands of flowers at the gates of Buckingham Palace, one newspaper, The Sun, asked: “Where is our Queen?”  As the 2006 film The Queen shows, she prefered to stay at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, with her grandsons, William and Harry. In the film, the Prime Minister Tony Blair, played by Michael Sheen, tries to persuade the Queen, played by Helen Mirren, to show more emotion. The death of Diana was a turning point in the emotional history of the nation. Until then the British, like the Queen, were reserved. After Diana’s death it became OK for adults to cry in public.

let’s talk

Today showing emotion is also acceptable for members of the Royal Family. William and Harry have spoken publicly about the trauma of their mother’s death. They believe that people, especially men, need to talk about their traumas. William, who was 15 in 1997, recently said: “The shock never leaves you.” His younger brother Harry was 12 in 1997. He has admitted that he had counselling when he was an adult. The brothers  will  say more about their mother’s death in a BBC documentary called Diana.


If William and Harry took many years to accept their mother’s death, the British public’s emotional reaction ended quickly. Today most people probably feel embarrassed about the events of 1997.
It will be interesting to see what happens on the anniversary. If you want to remember Diana there are monuments in England. For many centuries the Spencer family have lived on a large estate in Northamptonshire called Althorp. Diana’s tomb is on an island on the estate. Diana’s London home was Kensington Palace. This is next to Kensington Gardens and here you can find the Diana Memorial Playground. It is considered an appropriate memorial because Diana loved children. Every year it receives a million visitors.


In actual fact the playground honours the memory of another local resident. In 1897 a Scottish writer, J.M. Barrie, took his dog for a walk in Kensington Gardens. Here he met two young boys, George and Jack Llewellyn Davies, and their nanny. They became friends and later members of the Llewellyn Davies family provided the inspiration for Barrie’s most famous story, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. There is a Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. There are also references to Peter Pan in the Diana Memorial Playground. The central attraction is a big wooden pirate ship, like Captain Hook’s “Jolly Roger,” and there are teepees, which also appear in the story. Like Diana, J.M. Barrie was interested in charity work. In 1929 he gave all the rights from Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children. 

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For many centuries the Spencer family have lived on a  large estate... La famiglia Spencer vive da molti secoli in una grande tenuta. Due cose da notare in questa frase, la prima: si usa il present perfect, poiché la famiglia Spencer vive ancora ad Althorp. Con il simple past (lived) la frase significherebbe che ha vissuto lì per secoli ma non ci vive più.
La seconda: a large estate, ovvero una grande tenuta. La parola estate è un false friend: non significa estate (che si dice summer), bensì tenuta. Ma attenzione: estate ha altri significati. A housing estate è una zona di case popolari, mentre estate può anche significare eredità.