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The day we met Diana - Memories of princess’s return visits to her home region

PUBLISHED: 14:00 14 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:10 16 November 2020

Diana, Princess of Wales, shaking hands with residents of Bury St Edmunds on Angel Hill in 1993 Picture: ARCHANT

Diana, Princess of Wales, shaking hands with residents of Bury St Edmunds on Angel Hill in 1993 Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Many thousands of people around East Anglia have fond memories of the day they met Diana.

Diana, Princess of Wales, visiting Norwich in November 1990 Picture: ARCHANTDiana, Princess of Wales, visiting Norwich in November 1990 Picture: ARCHANT

Born in Norfolk, the Princess of Wales frequently returned to the region.

Diana, Princess of Wales meeting residents of Colchester in 1988 Picture: ARCHANTDiana, Princess of Wales meeting residents of Colchester in 1988 Picture: ARCHANT

One memorable occasion came when she opened the Suffolk Show in 1986, arriving at the showground in Trinity Park by helicopter, and touring round in an open-topped vehicle.

Diana, Princess of Wales, at the 1986 Suffolk Show


 Picture: ARCHANTDiana, Princess of Wales, at the 1986 Suffolk Show Picture: ARCHANT

She met and chatted to guests and members of the farming community during the day.

Diana, Princess of Wales in King's Lynn in 1983 Picture: ARCHANTDiana, Princess of Wales in King's Lynn in 1983 Picture: ARCHANT

As one of the crowds who gazed from behind the barriers, I still remember the excitement in the air... even though I only caught a few glimpses of the royal visitor in her distinctive bright red outfit.

Cameras were out to capture the moment as Princess Diana was at the Suffolk Show Picture: ARCHANTCameras were out to capture the moment as Princess Diana was at the Suffolk Show Picture: ARCHANT

Of course, Diana was often seen at Sandringham, the place where she was born, at Park House on the royal estate. The princess regularly attended Christmas Day services at the church there together with the rest of the royals, and also visited other locations nearby, including King’s Lynn.

Princess Diana during her visit to her old school, Riddlesworth Hall near Thetford, in April 1989 Picture: ARCHANTPrincess Diana during her visit to her old school, Riddlesworth Hall near Thetford, in April 1989 Picture: ARCHANT

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On one occasion in 1988, she was photographed with a vintage fire engine at Sandringham, as Prince William, Prince Harry and Peter and Zara Phillips all had fun dressing up in old helmets.

Diana, Princess of Wales at Sandringham on Christmas Day, 1994 Picture: ARCHANTDiana, Princess of Wales at Sandringham on Christmas Day, 1994 Picture: ARCHANT

In May the same year, the princess visited Sheringham to open the new Splash leisure pool, chatting to everyone from town dignitaries to schoolchildren, and collecting bouquets of flowers and flags from those who lined the route to meet her. She also visited the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

Princess Diana at Sandringham with Prince William, Prince Harry and Peter Phillips, visiting a vintage fire engine Picture: ARCHANTPrincess Diana at Sandringham with Prince William, Prince Harry and Peter Phillips, visiting a vintage fire engine Picture: ARCHANT

Diana paid a visit to her old school, Riddlesworth Hall near Diss, in 1989, meeting up with a younger generation of pupils.

Over the years, crowds lined the streets for her visits to towns and cities around the area, including Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury.

A visit to Norwich in 1990 saw her giving support to a cause close to her heart, as she visited the Eating Disorders Association, now called Beat. She also saw around the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia.

The same year, she visited the then new Crown Pools complex in Ipswich, and unveiled a plaque commemorating her visit. She also met crowds in the town’s Christchurch Park before heading on to Colchester.

She also formally opened St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmunds and William Wood House in Sudbury in 1993.

Many of those who met the princess during her visits have told how she stopped to chat and shake hands, showing a genuine interest.


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