The Princess of Wales. How the Rose was Named.

Posted on Sep 1, 2017 by



In 1997, to raise funds, The British Lung Foundation asked Harkness to name a rose for its Patron, Diana, Princess of Wales. Called affectionately ‘The People’s Princess’ in Britain, Diana was a committed supporter. By attending fund raising events all over the UK, she helped the charity raise its profile. Since her divorce from the Prince of Wales, Diana was, technically, no longer Princess of Wales but as the rose was for a good cause, Buckingham Palace gave permission to use the title.

A few roses were named for The Princess of Wales but this is the only one she herself chose after viewing a selection of new Harkness seedlings. As white roses were her favourites, she chose HARdinkum. The seedling she asked to be named for her gives great colour impact. Cream buds open to pure white scented blooms which continue through the summer into the autumn.

On 21 April 1997 Robert and Philip Harkness presented the rose to Princess Diana to mark her work for the British Lung Foundation. For each Princess of Wales rose sold, Harkness made a donation to the charity. A few months later, on 31 August, the Princess died in a car crash in the Pont de L’ Alma tunnel in Paris. Demand for her rose outstripped supply by ten years. Harkness, which had to close its telephone and fax lines, was asked to supply thousands of stems of her rose for her funeral in Westminster Abbey. Some were used in the poignant little wreath on her coffin.

The public funeral of Princess Diana was on 6 September 1997 in London. The tenor bell sounded to signal the departure of the cortège from her home in Kensington Palace. The coffin was carried on a gun carriage along Hyde Park to St. James’ Palace where the Union Flag was lowered to half-mast. More than a million lined the route to Westminster Abbey.

Shops, banks and entertainment venues closed, sports stadiums lay empty, with fixtures cancelled. A tireless campaigner for the disadvantaged, hundreds of representatives from the charities she supported walked behind the Princess on her last journey.

Two thousand people attended the ceremony. The British television audience reached over thirty-two million, one of the UK’s highest viewing figures but two billion worldwide watched the funeral. Larger even than that of her wedding, it was one of the most watched events in history. The service was relayed to huge crowds on screens in Hyde Park. As the hearse drove along the route out of London to Northamptonshire, mourners paid their last respects. Diana left along a road strewn with flowers.

Diana is buried at Althorp Park, her childhood home. Her grave, on an island in a lake known as The Round Oval, is visited in privacy by her sons. A path with thirty-six oak trees, marking each year of her life, leads to the lake where black swans swim. In the water are water lilies, which, along with white roses, were Diana’s favourite flowers. On the south side of the lake, a summerhouse, previously in the gardens of Admiralty House, London, serves as a memorial. An arboretum is nearby with trees planted by Diana and her sons William and Harry.

In 2007, Princes William and Harry celebrated the 46th anniversary of their mother’s birth a few weeks before the 10th anniversary of her death by organising a concert at Wembley Arena in London.

On 30th August 2017 the Princes William and Harry joined by The Duchess of Cambridge at Diana’s memorial garden on eve of the 20th anniversary of her death.

Excerpt from ‘Harkness Roses: Stories behind the names

by Pamela Shields available from

Posted in: Article