After the death of Princess Diana, there were a number of projects undertaken to erect memorials to commemorate the life and work of a woman that had become dubbed ‘The People’s Princess’. Many of the memorials and attractions that bear her name are focussed very much on the family and especially children. Though the Memorial Fountain may not have had the best reception after its unveiling, the same cannot be said for the Diana Memorial Playground. Children were very dear to Diana and she was the patron of a number of charities that work with children all over the world. It therefore seems fitting that one of her memorials is dedicated to the innocence of childhood. The Memorial Playground is very much a place where children can let their imaginations take control, as imaginative play is very much encouraged here. Here they can be who they want to be and enjoy the play equipment and surroundings to their hearts’ content.
The centrepiece of the whole playground is a large wooden pirate ship that looks as though it could have been taken straight from the pages of Peter Pan. The ship gives the impression that it has run aground on some deserted isle as around the base of the boat there is a beach like area. The playground is located next to Kensington Palace, the place that Diana called home, and far from looking out of place in such a grand setting the park feels just as much at home in this environment as the palace itself.
More than three quarters of a million children come to play in the memorial playground every year, and there is something here that every child regardless of physical ability can enjoy. For the children that are less able to run and climb there is a wonderful sensory trail to stimulate their senses. There are play sculptures and plenty of different toys here for them to enjoy too. Tepees offer shade from the sun and a place to make a den and all of this is set against the beautiful background of the Kensington Palace Gardens. The parents have not been forgotten either as there has been plenty of seating provided where they can relax while their children play.
Accessibility and Inclusion
The park has been designed in such a way that children that are less able can play alongside the able bodied. This is not your average children’s playground as care has been taken in the overall design of the park to include aspects that relate to the creative and physical aspects of play as well as taking into consideration the educational and social development of the children that come to play here. As you will have probably guessed from the inclusion of a pirate ship and the tepees the design of the park is based on the Peter Pan stories, and the perpetuation of childhood that the story involves. This is a place where the children can bring their imagination to life, make friends and be exactly what they want to be in their imaginative play scenarios.