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The royal couple have paid tribute in ways big and small, from their daughter's name to the place they call home

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July 16, 2015 10:15 AM

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Proud dad Prince William has described his 10-week-old daughter, Princess Charlotte, as “a little joy of heaven”.

She has also become something of a “silent” beacon to the life of William’s late mother, Princess Diana.

William and wife Kate, both 33, are raising her largely in Norfolk, where Diana spent her early years. The new princess has Diana’s name and was christened in the same church at Sandringham that was chosen by the Spencer family for Diana.

The first ever Picture of Diana Princess of Wales on her christening day in August 1961 with Lord and Lady Althorpe in her borrowed christening dress.
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“No other royal has made such a statement,” Diana’s ex-bodyguard Ken Wharfe, author of Closely Guarded Secret, tells PEOPLE. “They could have chosen St. George’s Windsor, but William is keen to subtly keep the legend alive. There are more references being made to Diana than there ever have been. This is a silent reference, if you like.”

The royal couple also chose one of Di’s favorite photographers, Mario Testino, to take Charlotte’s christening pictures.

Another clear nod to the beloved late princess: Kate and William tapped Diana’s niece, Laura Fellowes, as one of their daughter’s godparents.

“Choosing Laura Fellowes was a nice touch,” says someone who knows her. She is “divine, a lovely girl,” the source adds.

Another godparent, William’s close friend Tom van Straubenzee, comes from a family who have had longstanding links with the Spencers over the years.

Born at Park House, a stone’s throw from St. Mary Magdalene church, Diana spent most of her childhood there. And the girl who would become the world’s most famous royal so loved the house that she and her siblings said goodbye to every room in the 10-bedroom mansion – when they left for Althorp in 1975, her biographer Andrew Morton has written.

“Sandringham isn’t just a royal place but somewhere that the Spencer family spent a lot of time,” a family friend tells PEOPLE.

“Her childhood there was happy,” says Wharfe. The main house, owned by Queen Elizabeth, “wasn’t Diana’s favorite place because of her unhappiness with Prince Charles,” Wharfe says. “But she was always talking about the fun time she had at Park House. She would tell the boys and us of the great times she had.”

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Former royal chef Darren McGrady concurs, saying, “Hopefully part of them thought, ‘This is where Mum grew up.’ She loved Sandringham. She loved it because she could get away – it wasn’t like Balmoral in Scotland. She could scoot off in the afternoon and head to the beaches and walk around with her baseball cap pulled down,” McGrady adds.

“That was her escape, with the wind blowing in her face. She loved being close to the beach. She said that was the Cancerian in her, that was the crab.”

Wharfe adds of the enduring Princess Diana links: “William and Kate and Prince Harry see the good in her. They realize how important, how influential, their mother was.”

And he believes that it will continue. “It’s a clear indication of where they are going. After a period of her memory being in the wilderness, they are consciously, or unconsciously, bringing their mother into the fold. ”

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