Sleeping Beauty and The Prince.

As the nation prepares for the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, there has been much press coverage about the couple. One article in particular attracted my attention, that was a visit to the lake and island at Althorp.

Years ago, I was invited along with another designer and a ceramic manufacturer to visit Althorp the home of the Spencer family and the final resting place of Diana, Princes of Wales. The home is open to the public between July and August; although we went in the autumn long after the visitors had departed. The purpose of our visit was to suggest possible china designs suitable for inclusion in the exhibition shop. Sadly, my designs never made it into production, which was a major disappointment!

It was, however, a most unforgettable experience. We were shown so many things that day: the wedding dress, the exquisite shoes with details on the soles, the designer dresses displayed alongside photographs of each occasion. We later visited the stables, the memorial and the house, all bathed that day in a glorious golden light.

There was one thing that stuck in my mind more than any other and that was the lake. On that particular day it was resplendent in autumn colour as we walked along a path set with thirty six oak trees, one for each year of Diana’s life. I was told that the little row boat at the edge of the lake was used by the Princes William and Harry, to enable them to have some privacy whilst visiting their mother’s grave on the little island in the middle of the lake. When Diana was laid to rest there were four black swans swimming on the water amidst lilies and surrounded by carefully planted lakeside gardens filled with white roses, which were Diana’s favourite flowers.

It seemed to me so very beautiful and a fitting resting place for the Princess. Dan Pearson, the garden designer managed to create a scene from a fairy tale, it was in fact how I imagined an illustration from the pages of Sleeping Beauty.