In the middle of the garden is a towering pirate ship built of wood, covered with children exploring, hiding and calling down to their Moms and Dads below. The Moms call back to them to jump back down as their ice-creams are melting onto the sand. Yes, that's right - sand, for the pirate ship even has a beach around it! The vessel has a shipwrecked atmosphere as it sits with its rigging, pulleys, and crow's nest on a bed of pristine white sand. How the princess would have loved to see the 70,000 children every year, innocent in their imaginative play, enjoying the free fun in her name.
As a teacher Princess Diana would have approved of the educational value of the sensory trail and the inviting sculptures - just made to be handled and explored, some responding with sound. She would have loved the attractive parkland setting full of majestic trees and fragrant flowers, a rare inner city habitat for wildlife such as wildfowl, beetles, and even foxes.
Among the many other toys and equipment are teepees, slides, walkways and a tree-house, where would-be braves and squaws can hide out. Tourists with hot sore feet who have been tramping around London showing their children the sights will be relieved to know that ample seating has also been provided where parents can take a well-earned break and watch their little ones cooling down. There are even mermaid fountains with rocky boulders dotted around. This ensures the memory of JM Barrie's Peter Pan is still evident in the atmosphere of Neverland too, so maybe bring a copy of the book to read while the children role-play.
In addition to the obligatory ice-cream for the kids, The Diana Playground Cafe also serves snacks such as fresh salads, kids meals, sandwiches and refreshing cups of tea or cooling drinks! Tourists with larger families might want to consider a picnic though, as London prices for a whole family lunch might be eye-watering! The usual amenities of toilets, and disabled and baby facilities are provided too.
All in all, this is certainly a Memorial Garden Walk with a twist! It's almost as if the Princess is still telling us to leave our handkerchiefs, flowers and tears behind and remember her with shouts, screams and laughter. This joyful exuberance was a quality which she shared in common with the children of the world and is a more fitting tribute here. Only the good die young?