London - Twenty years after Princess Diana died, flowers and other tributes are again being placed outside Kensington Palace where she lived.
Although far fewer than the sea of bouquets left in the days after her death, they are no less poignant.
One message described Diana as a ‘beautiful person inside’ and signed off with: ‘You will be forever our Queen of Hearts.’
Ahead of Thursday’s anniversary staff at the palace, where Diana’s sons William and Harry still have homes, have been briefed to direct well-wishers with cards, candles and banners to the gates.
After the Princess died in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997, thousands came to Kensington Palace to pay their respects, often breaking down in tears.
In a recent BBC documentary Prince Harry, who was 12 at the time, recalled returning home from Balmoral to find ‘what seemed like hundreds of thousands of flowers scattered from the gates of Kensington Palace all the way down to Kensington High Street’. He added: ‘I remember people’s hands wet because of the tears they’d just wiped away from their face.’
When the time came to remove the tributes, Scouts, cab drivers and dozens of volunteer groups took part.
Flowers which were still fresh were taken to hospitals and nursing homes while teddy bears and toys were gathered up and distributed to children in need. This year the princes have taken control of how their mother will be publicly remembered.
Officials have not confirmed if there will be a walkabout at the makeshift Kensington Palace gate memorial, although the two princes are set to attend a reception tomorrow to celebrate Diana’s charity work in the White Garden created for her.
Joined by the Duchess of Cambridge, they will meet people from charities including the National Aids Trust, The Leprosy Mission, and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Neither the brothers nor Prince Charles are expected to take part in any official engagements on Thursday. It is understood that the Prince of Wales will spend the anniversary privately in Scotland.