File photo: The prince spent around seven minutes chatting to the group, leaving only when crowds started to gather, saying it was a private visit. Picture: Reuters

London - Well-wishers became tearful on Monday night as the Duke of Cambridge thanked them for marking his mother’s birthday.

The fans had been holding a vigil outside Kensington Palace since 5.30am to remember what would have been Diana, Princess of Wales’ 58th birthday.

At around 6.45pm they were astounded to see her eldest son walk quietly and without fanfare through the palace gates into Kensington Gardens with a small security detail.

William walked up to the six of them, who were surrounded by pictures of his late mother along with bunting and flowers, and shook each of them by the hand. 

"William told me he knew we’d been coming here for years and thanked us for what we were doing for his mother," said 59-year-old fan John Loughrey, from south-west London. "I’m still shaking now. I feel very emotional."

The prince spent around seven minutes chatting to the group, leaving only when crowds started to gather, saying it was a private visit.

Daily Mail