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Last Updated: Friday, 31 August 2007, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Palace vigil for Diana supporters

By Angus Crawford
BBC Home Affairs reporter, Kensington Palace

Supporters of Princess Diana travelled from far and wide to be at Kensington Palace on the 10th anniversary of her death.

"She lit the soul for all the people," Pat told me. She'd come all the way from Newcastle to stand with others outside the gates of Kensington Palace.

"I was really sad I didn't come last year, but I couldn't get respite care for my son who is disabled."

Princess Diana supporter
Supporters of Princess Diana left tributes at the palace gates

She confessed she didn't really know why she was here, but she said she always felt that her own mother had never really cared about her. So when Diana died, " I wanted to stand up at the funeral and say to William and Harry 'I've lost her too, and I needed her.'"

For those laying flowers, leaving pictures, poems and dedications, it's a very personal statement. Some wear her image on T-shirts - one man has written her name in facepaint across his forehead.

Tourists and Londoners on their lunch breaks stop to look. Some pose in front of the displays and have their photos taken by friends using mobile phones.

They're drawn to the crowd, the cluster of television satellite trucks and the constant chatter of journalists. One Eastern European journalist, in heavily accented English, approaches a passer-by and asks "What for you in one word means Diana?"

'Beacon to the world'

The gates and railings outside Kensington Palace are slowly being covered by bouquets, pictures, tributes and prayers. They come from all over the world "in memory of the sweetest, most beautiful princess", as one tribute said.

"She was princess of the Joe public," said another.

"You were a beacon to the world."

But others show a residual anger over the way she was treated. One says simply "Robbed", and another "God's retribution will be on those who tormented you."

John Loughrey, Wandsworth
Some of Princess' supporters were overwhelmed

There was a brief informal service at 1100, prayers and a hymn sung without music. Since then, an ode by Andrew Lloyd Webber has been playing constantly from a CD player brought by one group of supporters.

But this isn't a repeat of 1997. Then, flowers lay several feet deep in some places and stretched right across the lawn down towards Kensington Road.

Now, small groups are eating picnics, children are playing and several police officers are patrolling the area. There are far fewer people than a decade ago but with the constant coming and going it's impossible to be sure of numbers.

When I suggest to one Diana supporter that there may be as few as a hundred, I'm accused of fibbing. "There are at least 500," she says.

Some have slept here overnight. They tell me they'll be back here next year and for many years after that.

One says simply "I'll come as long as I have breath in my body."




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