Di's Memorial Sparks Controversy

The public will soon have a new way to honor the life of Princess Diana, Britain's most beloved and most controversial royal.

A memorial in her honor, completed after years of debate, opens later today in Kensington Gardens, London. CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips offers a preview for The Early Show.

The object of the exercise was to create a focal point for the memory of Princess Diana and, sure enough, her memorial has proven as controversial as her life.

A meandering stream that splits at the top, flows gently downhill and re-assembles in a pool at the bottom has already become a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. "A warm inclusive place," say some; "more like a drainage ditch,'" say others. It was designed by an Anglo-American partnership that includes Kathryn Gustafson of Seattle.

Gustafson says, "I wanted very much for it to be a place you walked into, a total environment, not an object that you walked around. She was so inclusive, we wanted it to be a place you felt you were part of."

The fountain is in London's Hyde Park, just a stone's throw incidentally, from the place where Diana glamorously strode the night her former husband Prince Charles was admitting his adultry on TV and not far from Kensington Palace where she lived and where the vigil after her death spontaneously took place.

Just what form the permanent memorial to Diana should take was not an easy choice. Two designs were chosen from the hundreds that were considered and then they just about had to flip a coin to decide on this one. It's a kind of anti-monument, an unconventional memorial to an unconventional princess. And not everybody likes it.

Diana's friend Vivienne Parry says, "I think that the British people are looking for something that represents what they felt about Diana. For the British people, Diana was a national icon, and I don't think that this monument looks as though i'ts going to be that sort of stature."

Others say its gently flowing design reflects Diana's true nature.

Rosa Muncton, chairman of the Diana Memorial committee, explains: "It's contemporary, and it's sleek and it's modern. There are bits where the water rushes, you know, her turbulent bits of her life. There are calm bits, and it's a circle of life and it's very feminine. We absolutely didn't want a fountain that went straight up in a very masculine way."

The official opening next month promises more controversy and drama. The Queen, who has never publiclly mentioned the "D" word since Diana's funeral, will preside. Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, on the outs with the royal House of Windsor since his eulogy roasting them, will also be there. So will her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, and her former husband, Prince Charles.

If it weren't being held in mid-summer, the coolness between the Windsors and the Spencers might just turn the fountain into an ice sculpture.
  • Tatiana Morales

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