A princess having the time of her life
Leaving stuffy Royal duties behind: Diana splashing out with her beloved boys on Thorpe Park days out
WHEN photographs of Princess Diana at Thorpe Park appeared in newspapers across the globe in the 1990s, many were delighted to see her acting as a normal mum, having the time of her life with her young boys, Princes William and Harry.
Dressed casually for her visits, the Princess of Wales loved every moment on the rides and had no qualms about getting soaked on the popular log flume water ride, Logger’s Leap.
The ride is currently closed for general maintenance so we thought now was the perfect time to look back on the images of the late people’s princess enjoying trips to the Chertsey theme park with the boys she doted on.
Our archive photos show Diana braving the rapids on the Thunder River ride, as well as zooming down a large water slide in a yellow dinghy on Depth Charge with her children.
Suzanne Shorter, nee Morris, worked at Thorpe Park when she was a student for three seasons between 1989 and 1992, and she told the Informer of her memories of Diana at the theme park.
“I worked on rides and attractions and was one of the ride operators,” she said.
“When I joined you started off in rides and attractions on the small kids’ rides and then you went up to rides like the Flying Fish and the bigger rides like Logger’s Leap.
“That’s the one where there’s the synonymous picture of Princess Diana.”
Mrs Shorter has vivid memories of one of Diana’s visits when she was able to talk to the princess.
Mrs Shorter recalls: “You were assigned your ride each day or week, depending on your shift.
“I was on the kids’ area and I remember Harry and William were very young.
“It was like a merry-goround and you started in a car and went up and down as well as round and round.
“It was probably one of the first rides she went on.”
Staff had not been told of the visit so were shocked when Diana and the young princes arrived.
Mrs Shorter said: “We were told to report to our rides and I remember looking around the corner and there she was with the boys.
“My heart was racing and I just wanted everything to go right. She was so friendly and chatty. She said to me ‘does this ride go fast?’ I said no, not too fast. Then she said she had had quite a large breakfast. Then she got on the ride and that was that.”
One of the main memories for Mrs Shorter, who now resides in Camberley, but lived in Sunbury at the time, was that Diana just seemed a regular parent making the most of a day out with her children.
Speaking about the late Princess, she said: “She looked so normal, just a normal mum having fun with her boys.
“She wasn’t dolled up to the nines. She had a little leather bomber jacket on I think and her hair hadn’t been preened by a hairdresser.”
Mrs Shorter recalled it being an exciting day for staff at the park.
She added: “Princess Diana came to the park once or twice – maybe even three times.
“I don’t remember seeing a big entourage with her.”
Mrs Shorter looks back fondly at her student days working at Thorpe Park.
“It was a great place to work,” she said.
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