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Royal flashback: When Princess Diana visited Hong Kong – with and without ex-husband Prince Charles – in pictures

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 4 days ago Tracey Furniss
Chris Patten, Diana, Princess of Wales posing for the camera: Princess Diana is greeted by then-governor Chris Patten and his wife, Lavender, at the Peninsula hotel. Photo: SCMP Archive © SCMP Princess Diana is greeted by then-governor Chris Patten and his wife, Lavender, at the Peninsula hotel. Photo: SCMP Archive

It would have been Diana, Princess of Wales' 59th birthday on July 1. But as we know, she tragically died on August 31, 1997, after a car crash in Paris, aged just 36 years old.

The beloved figure and mother of Prince William and Prince Harry was slated to visit Hong Kong later that year. That would have made her the first member of the royal family to visit the city after the handover of Hong Kong to China, after 156 years of British rule ended on July 1, 1997.

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Sadly, that was not to be. However, Diana did visit Hong Kong twice in her short life. The first time was while married to Prince Charles when they were invited to officiate at the grand opening of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre (HKCC) in Tsim Sha Tsui in 1989.

The Prince and Princess of Wales arrived in Hong Kong on November 8 of that year for a three-day visit. The first night, they were guests of honour of the then-governor of Hong Kong, Sir David Wilson, at a dinner and concert as part of the HKCC's grand opening. They heard London's Bach Choir perform at the inaugural concert.

Prince Charles, Diana, Princess of Wales posing for a photo: The Prince and Princess of Wales attending the grand opening of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: SCMP Archive © Provided by South China Morning Post The Prince and Princess of Wales attending the grand opening of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: SCMP Archive

Princess Diana dazzled in a cream strapless sequinned evening dress with a short-sleeved bolero and high stand-up collar. She also wore a glittering diamond tiara, which had belonged to Queen Mary.

a man standing on a boat: Diana arrives at Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport in 1995. Photo: SCMP Archive © Provided by South China Morning Post Diana arrives at Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport in 1995. Photo: SCMP Archive

The Princess of Wales came back to Hong Kong on a three-day private visit in April 1995, after her separation from Prince Charles, which took place in 1992. Diana was welcomed at Kai Tak Airport by the then-governor Chris Patten and his wife Lavender.

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Josh A. Cassada et al. posing for the camera: Princess Diana with Chris Patten during her visit to Hong Kong. Photo: SCMP Archive © Provided by South China Morning Post Princess Diana with Chris Patten during her visit to Hong Kong. Photo: SCMP Archive

The princess, who stayed in a suite on the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, attended a dinner in aid of the Leprosy Mission at The Peninsula hotel on her first night. She met workers and supporters of the mission, which was raising funds for the centres it had set up across 14 provinces in China.

The following day she accompanied Lavender Patten to the Hong Kong Youth Outreach Programme on Hong Kong Island before visiting cancer patients at the Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan. She then had lunch at the Repulse Bay Hotel.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Princess Diana with Chris and Lavender Patten during her visit to Eastern Hospital. Photo: SCMP Archive © Provided by South China Morning Post Princess Diana with Chris and Lavender Patten during her visit to Eastern Hospital. Photo: SCMP Archive

Her second night in the city was spent at a fundraiser for Hong Kong Cancer Fund in the form of a dinner at the China Club with the club's founder, the late David Tang. There she met prominent Cancer Fund members and feasted on a southern Chinese meal.

Diana, Princess of Wales, David Tang are posing for a picture: Princess Diana with David Tang during her visit to Hong Kong in 1995. Photo: Mark Ralston © Provided by South China Morning Post Princess Diana with David Tang during her visit to Hong Kong in 1995. Photo: Mark Ralston

On her final day in the city, she was flown by helicopter to the Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers in Shek Kwu Chau Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre. She then had lunch with the Tangs at their country home in Sai Kung.

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Michael Chang, Diana, Princess of Wales standing in front of a crowd: Diana with tennis player Michael Chang, who won the Salem Open tennis final in 1995. Photo: SCMP Archive © Provided by South China Morning Post Diana with tennis player Michael Chang, who won the Salem Open tennis final in 1995. Photo: SCMP Archive

She then watched Michael Chang beat Jonas Bjorkman in the Salem Open tennis final at Victoria Park. Her memorable three-day visit ended with a private dinner at Government House with the Pattens.

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