THE Glasgow Garden Festival opened its doors 32 years ago this week – and while the official Royal on duty was Diana, it was Kinning Park’s own ‘princess’ who was first on the site.

Twelve-year-old Jane Rafferty – where is she now? – and her two attendants joined the Lord and Lady Provost to unveil a plaque on the new Bell’s Bridge tower, getting the event underway.

It was April 28, 1988 and the sun was shining, as hundreds of Glaswegians poured in to the site.

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Popular attractions included the Clydesdale Bank Tower and the Coca-Cola Rollercoaster, but most visitors headed straight for the six themed gardens, where 1.5 million flowers had been planted especially for the occasion.

It wasn’t Jane’s first turn in the spotlight – apparently, the St Gerard’s Secondary pupil also acted as a stand-in for Princess Di at the rehearsal.

When Princess Diana and Prince Charles did arrive, the following day, they met 96-year-old Minnie McGregor.

Minnie, whose home overlooked the Festival site, was the oldest of the Festival’s 100,000 season ticket holders, and she was delighted to meet the Royal couple.

“I remember clearly when Prince Charles’s grandfather King George VI visited the city during the Empire Exhibition,” Minnie told the Evening Times the day before her Royal appointment.

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On arrival, Charles and Diana were serenaded by hundreds of schoolchildren singing the official festival song, Rainbow City.

They were treated to a trip on a tram, meeting driver George Fryer, and were given a tour of the site, including a horse-drawn carriage ride.

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Princess Diana sewed the first stitch on a massive tapestry being created in aid of the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, and was treated to a fashion show, courtesy of House of Fraser.

The tapestry was a triptych of a formal Elizabethan garden, so some of the hospice staff were there to welcome her in period dress.

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People were asked to pay £1 a stitch to take part, and assorted Scottish celebrities and soap stars got involved too.

(The Embroiderers Guild was reportedly on standby in case someone did not do it properly, and they could rush in and fix it after they had gone.)

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Our sister newspaper, The Herald, reported: “Conscious perhaps of the unpredictable Scottish weather, the Princess chose a simple full-length woollen coat of bright peacock blue.

"A wide-brimmed matching hat with a thick black velvet rim completed the outfit. Underneath she wore a black skirt and white shirt with one of her favourite fashion accessories, a multi-coloured tie.”

The newspaper noted that the day was a noisy affair, and the Princess had to hold her hands over her ears during the firework display.

The report continued: “In his speech, Prince Charles adopted a mock Scots accent to read a few lines from a folk song by Adam McNaughton.

“He added: “This garden festival has to be applauded but I hope that its spirit and aspiration will live on to some extent in the buildings and environment which follow it.”

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The Mitchell Library houses a collection of fantastic Glasgow Garden Festival memorabilia, including Royal souvenir brochures, site plans, jigsaws, cross-stitch patterns, menus and brochures from the Beechgrove Garden, which took up residence there for the duration.

More than four million people visited the Festival and it is fondly remembered by many Glasgow Times readers.

Do you have special memories of Glasgow’s Garden Festival? Did you meet Princess Diana on the day - or on another of her visits to Scotland? Email your stories and photos to ann, or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.