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Slideshow: Princess Diana exhibit opens this weekend at West Edmonton Mall

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From cards to gowns, toys and crowns, the life of the People’s Princess is on display in Edmonton.

The exhibit Diana: A Celebration examines the life and work of Diana, Princess of Wales opens Saturday and includes mementos from Diana’s childhood, several of her gowns — including her famous wedding dress — letters from Prince Charles and the Spencer family jewels.

“It takes you through the life of such an iconic woman, from her early days. … a lot of people don’t realize, but Princess Diana came from a very aristocratic family and she had very powerful female ancestors,” said Graeme Murton, art handler for the Althorp Estate, the Spencer family home where the exhibit is based.

The exhibit starts with a look at the Spencer family jewels and history, before progressing into Diana’s childhood. From there, visitors will get to see her wedding gown and clips of the royal wedding.

Immediately following the wedding room is a room where clips from Diana’s funeral play alongside Elton John’s Candle in the Wind 1997. In front of the video screen, rose petals are scatters in homage to the thousands of flowers thrown at Diana’s funeral procession on September 6, 1997.

“It sounds slightly grim, but it’s not at all. … if anything makes you feel slightly weepy in this exhibition, it’s this room that does that,” said Nick Grossmark, another curator of the exhibit.

The next room includes the legacy of Diana’s charity work, and houses Murton’s favourite part of the exhibit: a small prayer book given to Diana by Mother Theresa in 1991. Mother Theresa died the day before Diana’s funeral.

“It’s two iconic, loving people who built up a friendship (whose) general ground was helping other people, which is remarkable,” Murton said.

“Princess Diana, she went to charities that took her heart. She was the first celebrity, if you like, to touch AIDS patients. … She broke the mold.”

The exhibit ends with a look at Diana as a fashion icon, with several dresses from the 1980s and 1990s on display. The exhibit includes regal gowns, formal wear as well as outfits she wore during charity work abroad.

The last part of the exhibit is housed outside the gallery space, where two glass cabinets are filled with hundreds of condolences books sent after Diana's death.

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