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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Twenty years on from her death, a dwindling bunch of die-hards remember Diana

Twenty years on from her early death in a car crash in Paris, a dwindling crowd of the Princess Diana faithful gathered at Kensington Palace in London on Wednesday to remember their tragic heroine.

Outnumbered by members of the press this afternoon, it was a paltry turnout gathered outside the gates of the palace where Diana had lived: some, perhaps, discouraged by the dreary London weather; for others, the princess is just a figure from the past.

The grey skies and drizzly rain were not enough to deter the hardcore from paying their respects though, with some travelling from around the globe to celebrate the life and legacy of the ‘People’s Princess’.

Fransisca Florez, who had travelled from Seattle for the memorial, told The National: “I love Princess Diana because of all the amazing things she did for other people. She did amazing work for charity and was loved by everyone.

“I’ve followed her life since she got married, you know always watching her on the television and collecting magazines that she’s been in. Everybody loves her, she really is the people’s princess.”

Fransisca’s partner, Paul Greenwood who had also travelled from the States, said: “We planned our trip to London especially so we’d be here over the 20th anniversary of her death.

“We love Diana because I think she’s the type of person that, if she was here now, she’d come over and sit with us and talk to us, she was just really caring and kind and she’s left behind a huge legacy.”

Also there, dressed head to toe in a Union Jack flag, was John Loughery, who has been described as Diana’s ‘biggest fan’ and continues to closely follow the royal family.

Loughery, who had brought a huge cake to the gates with Diana’s face printed on, described Diana as a “very special person” and said that he “cried all through the night” upon hearing the news of her death.

The 62-year-old from south London had previously quit his job and got up at 5am every morning for six months to attend the Diana inquest, sleeping outside the Royal Courts of Justice for three nights to secure a seat on the first day.

Diana fans are expected to continue gathering outside the gates of Kensington Palace throughout the rest of the week.

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Earlier in the day, Princes William and Harry paid tribute to their mother at the new White Garden memorial.

The royal brothers and the Duchess of Cambridge visited the garden, which has been planted in the grounds of Kensington Palace.

It has been carefully designed with the essence of Diana at its heart, filled with foliage and flowers which were inspired by aspects of her life, style and image.

The princess, who was hugely influential and was internationally popular for her charity work, died when William and Harry were just 15 and 12.

A spokesperson at Kensington Palace said the garden visit would “allow the princes to pay tribute to the life and work of their mother the day before the 20th anniversary of her death.

“Together they will reflect on the significant achievement of the princess, and the legacy of her work which continues to resonate with so many today.”

Unlike the tribute to Diana ten years ago, which was attended by the Queen, senior royals and 500 others at the Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks near Buckingham Palace, today’s memorial was simple and personal and there will be no public service.

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