Redesign of Princess Diana’s Island Marks Initial Stage of Major Garden Project at Althorp, the Spencer Family’s historic English Estate, in the First Major Revamp of the Gardens in 350 Years
The island where Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest on September 6, 1997, the same day as her momentous funeral in London’s Westminster Abbey, is undergoing an extensive redesign to honor her memory. It will be completed in time for the 20th anniversary of her death, in August 2017.
The island is located at the center of the Spencer family’s 500-year-old ancestral estate, Althorp, which spans 13,000 acres surrounding its walled 500-acre park. Althorp, located 70 miles from London in Northamptonshire, England, has been the Spencers’ historic home for the past 18 generations, since it was built in 1508. The island at Althorp is in the process of undergoing widespread remodeling, along with the rest of Althorp’s gardens. Former South African President Nelson Mandela visited the island in 2001, to pay his respects, and lay a wreath on the Princess’s grave.
The ambitious, multi-million dollar overall project at Althorp, which Earl Spencer’s wife, Karen, Countess Spencer is leading, will constitute the first transformation of the historic grounds since they were originally designed 350 years ago by André Le Nôtre – King Louis XIV of France’s principal gardener who masterminded the gardens of Versailles. Princess Diana’s island has been designated as a top priority and one of the first areas to receive attention as a key focus for the project.
While Althorp is open to the public in July, August and at other select times during the year, there is no public access to the island itself. More details will follow later in the year.
About the Spencer Family
The Spencers are one of England’s oldest aristocratic families whose illustrious members have included Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill and generations of leaders in politics, society and the military. The Earl Spencer is the late Princess’s younger brother. He has owned Althorp since the death of his father, in 1992, and – as ‘Charles Spencer’ – is a bestselling historian.
The Countess Spencer (nee Karen Villeneuve) is Canadian. She is CEO of the charity Whole Child International, which she founded in 2004. Whole Child International is based in Los Angeles, and is dedicated to improving the quality of care for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children in the Developing World.