PRINCES William and Harry will hold an intimate gathering to acknowledge the legacy of their mother Princess Diana, ahead of the 20th anniversary of her death.
The princes, and William’s wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, will visit the White Garden, a stunning new garden in the grounds of Diana’s former residence, Kensington Palace in London.
The temporary garden is dedicated to Princess Diana, who died on August 31, 1997, in a high-speed car accident in Paris as she sought to escape the paparazzi.
William was just 15-years-old and his brother Harry 12 when their mother died at the age of 36.
The princes and Catherine will be given a tour of the garden, and meet gardeners who worked at Kensington Palace when Princess Diana was in residence in the 1990s.
They will inspect a number of Princess Diana’s favourite flowers, including tulips, a carpet of forget-me-nots, daisies, and pots of classic English white roses surrounding a reflective pool.
The young royals will then meet representatives from a number of charities that Princess Diana supported in the final years of her life, including the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Aids Trust, The Leprosy Mission, Royal Marsden Hospital, the English National Ballet and charity for the homeless Centrepoint.
The meeting, coming the day before the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death, will allow the princes to pay tribute to their mother’s life and legacy, Kensington Palace said.
Princess Diana’s former husband, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, will not attend the event.
The memorial event comes as the young royals embark on their autumn royal program, with William and Catherine moving from rural Norfolk to Kensington Palace as William finishes his job as a rescue helicopter pilot and begins life as a full-time royal.
The retirement from public life of their grandfather, the 96-year-old Prince Philip, and the advanced years of Queen Elizabeth, 91, will see the two princes and Catherine increase their public duties.
Kensington Palace has confirmed all three will undertake international trips during October and November, although details are yet to be released of the countries they will visit.
Prince Harry will travel to Canada to attend the Invictus Games, the international sporting event he founded for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
The trio will also continue their work with Heads Together, the campaign to improve responses to mental health.
Kensington Palace said Prince William will focus on projects dealing with homelessness, anti-bullying and conservation, and will continue his work with The Royal Foundation’s Cyberbullying Taskforce.
Catherine will continue to focus attention on the issues of addiction, family breakdown and the “importance of early intervention”.
Prince Harry will continue to support war veterans, use sport to promote social change, focus on environmental and conservation projects and continue his work to tackle and destigmatise HIV/AIDS.
‘I THOUGHT DIANA WOULD SURVIVE’
A hero firefighter who heard Princess Diana’s final words has told how he thought he had saved her life by giving her CPR moments after her fatal Paris car crash.
Xavier Gourmelon, 50, said the princess was conscious and had her eyes open as he pulled her from a wrecked Mercedes — only to suffer a cardiac arrest as she was placed gently on a stretcher.
He managed to resuscitate her and was convinced when her heart started beating again and her breathing resumed that she would survive.
But he was horrified when told later that the 36-year-old princess had died at 4am in hospital despite surgeons’ frantic efforts to revive her.
Xavier, who spent 22 years as a Paris firefighter before returning to his native Brittany, has spoken in public of the crash only once before — in evidence to Diana’s inquest in 2007.
But he said he felt able to give his first newspaper interview 20 years on from the August 1997 horror as he is no longer with the fire service.
Xavier said he initially had no idea he was treating the princess at the crash scene inside the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, close to the Malar fire station where he was duty officer.
The dad of two said: “We were very close to there and it took less than three minutes to reach it.
“My ten-man team was in two trucks and we were first to arrive.
“The car was in a mess and we just dealt with it like any road accident. We got straight to work to see who needed help and who was alive.
‘Diana said to me, My God, what’s happened?’
“The woman, who I later found out was Princess Diana, was on the floor in the back. She was moving very slightly and I could see she was alive.
“I could see she had a slight injury to her right shoulder but, other than that, there was nothing significant. There was no blood on her at all.
“I held her hand and told her to be calm and keep still, I said I was there to help and reassured her. She said, ‘My God, what’s happened?’
“I gave her some oxygen and my team and I stayed by her side as she was taken out of the car. It was very quick because we didn’t have to cut any of the wreckage.’’
But moments later the stricken princess stopped breathing.
Xavier, now in charge of emergency services at Brest airport, said: “We are all trained to give first aid and I saw that she suffered a cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.
“I massaged her heart and a few seconds later she started breathing again. It was a relief of course because, as a first responder, you want to save lives — and that’s what I thought I had done.
“To be honest I thought she would live. As far as I knew when she was in the ambulance she was alive and I expected her to live. But I found out later she had died in hospital. It was very upsetting.
“I know now that there were serious internal injuries, but the whole episode is still very much in my mind. And the memory of that night will stay with me forever.
“I had no idea then that it was Princess Diana. It was only when she had been put into the ambulance that one of the paramedics told me it was her.
“I was so shocked. I knew who she was, but don’t follow British royalty closely. I went to the ambulance and looked in and that’s when I recognised her.”
Mum-of-two Diana died in the crash with lover Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones survived and is now 49.
Keen trail runner Xavier went on: “I can still picture it now in my mind.
“This is the first time I have spoken to the media. As a fireman you are part of the French military so you are forbidden to talk. Now I have left the fire service I felt it was OK.
“For me this was simply a banal traffic accident, one of many that emergency services have to deal with and it was the usual causes, speed and a drunk driver.
“When I got to the car I could see the driver was already dead and there was nothing that could be done for him.
“Mr Fayed was in the back and in a bad condition, he had a cardiac arrest in the car and when he was taken out he was declared dead by a paramedic.
‘’The bodyguard in the front was conscious, but he was trapped and had very severe facial injuries.
“He kept asking for the princess, saying, ‘Where is she? Where is she’? But my team told him to keep calm and not speak. I told him that none of my men spoke English so it was better for him to keep still and not move. I told him not to worry we were looking after everyone.”
After Diana was taken to the city’s Pitie-Salpetriere hospital, Xavier returned to the nearby fire station, where he was working a double weekend shift.
He recalled how he immediately rang home to tell his wife what had happened.
Xavier said: “’She was asleep and I told her about the accident and Princess Diana. I said that she had suffered a cardiac arrest but I’d managed to revive her.”
An official report said the princess had suffered massive internal injuries and a ruptured blood vessel next to her heart which was causing internal bleeding.
Xavier said: “I can still picture the whole scene. It’s something I’ll never forget and that I always think about at this time of year.”