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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Prayers mark Diana's anniversary
Diana
The princess's death provoked an unprecedented outpouring of grief
Prayers have been said for Princess Diana outside Kensington Palace on the seventh anniversary of her death in a Paris car crash.

Father Frank Gelli led a short open-air service outside her former central London home, pausing for a moment's silence in her memory.

About 100 people gathered to leave flowers or read tributes pinned to the iron railings outside the palace.

Princes William and Harry were said to be remembering their mother in private.

The princess's former husband, Prince Charles, is said to be spending the day at Birkhall, on the Balmoral Estate in Scotland.

She took all the stuffiness out of the House of Windsor and brought them down to earth. But I think she was brutally treated
Mary Ratcliffe

At Kensington Palace, dozens of photographs of the princess, letters and poems were left to commemorate her death in 1997.

Union flags had been tied to trees around the palace and one well-wisher brought along a small stereo to play Sir Elton John's Candle in the Wind.

Ella Clark, 96, of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, brought yellow chrysanthemums to add to the shrine.

She said: "We come here every year. We love Diana and still miss her. People will visit all day. They're from all over the world."

Mary Ratcliffe, 79, of Swindon, Wiltshire, paid tribute to the princess, saying: "She took all the stuffiness out of the House of Windsor and brought them down to earth. But I think she was brutally treated."

Kensington Palace has noticed that it's getting fewer and fewer every year
Historic Royal Palaces spokesman

Flowers had begun to appear at the palace over the past few days but have not reached the numbers seen in the first few years after the princess's death.

A spokesman for Historic Royal Palaces said: "Kensington Palace has noticed that it's getting fewer and fewer every year."

Father Gelli, the former curate of St Mary Abbots church near the palace, has held services in Diana's memory for the past few years.

He said: "We keep it quiet. It's a small act of honouring Princess Diana."

There were no plans for any commemorative ceremonies at the beleaguered Diana memorial fountain in Hyde Park, which has been beset by drainage and safety problems since its official opening in July.

A Royal Parks spokesman said: "We will have an area set aside if people want to put their flowers there. "Most people will leave them at Kensington Palace. That's the tradition."

Father Gelli said he would not be holding ceremonies at the fountain, which he said was "a bit of a damp squib".

Diana fans
People gather at Kensington Palace to pay tribute

The princess, her lover Dodi Fayed and chauffeur Henri Paul died when their Mercedes car crashed in the Pont d'Alma tunnel in Paris after leaving the Ritz Hotel on 31 August, 1997.

Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was the only person to survive.

The princess's death provoked an unprecedented outpouring of national grief, with hundreds of thousands gathering to mourn outside Kensington Palace, where they left a sea of floral tributes.

Thousands more later lined the route of her funeral procession.

An inquest into the deaths began this year but was adjourned while Scotland Yard Commissioner investigated the accident, which has sparked a succession of conspiracy theories.

An earlier investigation concluded that Mr Paul had been drinking and was driving at high speed.

Mr Paul's parents contest the findings and have started legal action in a French court to clear their son's name.




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