Diana's Loyal Fans Mark Somber Anniversary
LONDON – Princess Diana's (search) most loyal fans gathered outside her former home Wednesday to remember the eighth anniversary of her death and to revile the woman who succeeded her as the wife of Prince Charles (search).
Britain's royal family planned no special observances. Her sons, Prince William (search) and Prince Harry (search), "will be going about their business as normal," said a spokesman at Clarence House, Prince Charles' official residence. The spokesman declined to be identified, in keeping with royal policy.
Outside Kensington Palace, Diana's home after her divorce from Charles, bouquets of roses, carnations and lilies were placed on the fence by her fans. The number of people at the site at any one time was in the dozens, in contrast to the throngs who piled up mounds of flowers in the days after Diana's death.
There were messages from Australia, Argentina and the United States, and pictures of Diana from every stage of her life. Some of the mourners wiped tears from their eyes; even more wiped sweat from their foreheads on a warm summer morning.
Diana died in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, along with boyfriend Dodi Fayed and chauffeur Henri Paul. The only survivor was Diana's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who was badly hurt.
Many of those who came to Kensington Palace Wednesday were upset that Charles in April married the former Camilla Parker Bowles — the woman the princess had blamed for the failure of the marriage.
In a gesture to the sensitivities of the Dianaphiles, Camilla took the title of Duchess of Cornwall rather than using Diana's title of Princess of Wales.
"Every year is hard but it's been more so this year because Charles married. I can't even say her name," said Julie Cain.
"She (Diana) is our queen of hearts. You never forget your queen of hearts," said delivery driver Raymond Nurse, 44. "Camilla — they will forget her, she's rubbish — but not our Diana."
Nurse and his wife, Lisa, 37, are members of the Diana Circle, a group set up to honor her memory, and came bearing pink lilies and a photo of Diana. "We'll be here next year and the year after that," Nurse said.
One of the many anti-Camilla messages taped to the gates at Kensington Palace said, "Adulterers will be punished on judgment day."
Cain, 42, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, spent the night in a London park next to the palace waiting to pay her respects.
"We camped out overnight and we do it every year because we have to try to keep Diana's memory alive," said Cain. "There's certain people within a certain family that just want to eradicate her from history. As long as I've got breath in my body I'll be coming here."
About 50 people gathered to hear Father Frank Gelli, the former curate of St. Mary Abbots Church nearby, conduct a brief prayer service.
The priest said afterward he believed it had been a difficult year for some of the Diana supporters.
"I want to say of course that a priest must be a reconciler, not a divider, I don't want to say anything that would be antagonistic but I do realize that there has been some hurt and hurt should be catered for."
Standing near Gelli was retired clown Edward Larki, 85, who came in white face makeup, plaid suit, a magenta tie and a yellow bowler hat. He came dressed that way, he said, because he had met the princess several times and "this is the only way Diana knew me — as a clown."
Joining in the bitterness which marked the occasion, Larki said that he never got close to Charles, "I would knife him for what he did to Di."