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This Is What Kensington Palace Looked Like Right After Princess Diana’s Death

Mourners flocked from all over the world to pay their respects in 1997.

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Child With Flowers Outside Kensington Palace As Tribute Following Death Of Diana Princess Of Wales 1997.Photo: Daily Mail/Shutterstock

A stunned world

Princess Diana died unexpectedly in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, leaving the world in shock. Even after divorcing Prince Charles, the People’s Princess had continued capturing the hearts of millions and was regarded as the most famous woman in the world. Mourners visited Kensington Palace immediately, dropping bouquets at the home where Lady Di would never return.

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All Pictures Show The Massive Floral Tributes Outside The Gates Of Kensington Palace Which Also Shows A Lone Policewoman Helping With The Distribution The Contributions Were The Biggest In London After The Tragic Death Of The Princess Of Wales Who WaPhoto: Mike Hollist/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

The pilgrimage to London

At the time of the 1997 tragedy, only 10 per cent of Brits had the Internet at home, so commenting on social media or changing a profile picture in memory of Diana wasn’t an option. Instead, mourners had to come in person if they wanted to pay their respects publicly, and the amount of support for the late princess was unprecedented.

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FLOWERS AND WREATHS OUTSIDE KENSINGTON PALACE AFTER DEATH OF PRINCESS DIANA, LONDON, BRITAIN - 1997Photo: Tony Kyriacou/Shutterstock

Outpouring of support

Tens of thousands of bouquets were left at Kensington Palace, creating an impressive pile. The flowers reached 30 feet from the gates.

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PRINCE CHARLES, PRINCE WILLIAM AND PRINCE HARRY VIEWING FLORAL TRIBUTES AFTER DEATH OF PRINCESS DIANA, KENSINGTON PALACE, LONDON, BRITAIN - 1997Photo: Shutterstock

A royal appearance

The royal family—including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, 15-year-old Prince William, and 12-year-old Prince Harry—were in Balmoral, Scotland, when they heard the news about Princess Diana’s death. The royal family stayed there and were criticized for failing to fly a flag at half-mast in London’s Buckingham Palace (it’s custom for no flag to be flown when the Queen is out of town) or giving anything more than a brief statement of sorrow. It wasn’t until five days after Diana’s death that Diana’s grieving sons and ex-husband publicly faced the mourners at Kensington Palace. “It was amazing; it was incredibly moving to know, but at that point, I wasn’t there. I was still in shock,” Prince Harry said in a 2017 interview.

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People Still Gathering To Mourn The Death Of Diana Princess Of Wales Outside Kensington Palace Four Days After Her Funeral.Photo: David Crump/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Worth the wait

As crowds got bigger, London set up orderly queues. At times it took 6.5 hours to reach the gates of St. James’s Palace, where grievers could leave flowers and sign the books of condolences that were eventually moved to Kensington Palace.

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Death Of The Princess Of Wales. Scenes At Kensington Palace Day After Princess Diana's FuneralPhoto: Mike Floyd/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Bouquets and beyond

Aside from the flowers, admirers also left stuffed animals, handwritten notes, and original poems in the late princess’s honour. “I will miss your poise, your compassion and most of all your ability to be yourself and do what you believe in,” wrote one visitor.

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BRITAIN DIANA FUNERAL, LONDON, United Kingdom EnglandPhoto: Rick Bowmer/AP/Shutterstock

Turning to anger

A relentless paparazzi chase in Paris was often blamed for Princess Diana’s death. Her driver raced away in high speeds, trying to shake off photographers—and he ended up crashing outside a tunnel. That resentment toward the media followed into Diana’s death. Some photographers were criticized for taking pictures of the tributes, with crowds calling, “You killed her.”

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Crowds At Kensington Palace On Day Of Funeral For Diana Princess Of Wales 1997.Photo: Jamie Wiseman/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

Silent streets

On the day of the funeral, more than a million mourners lined the streets between Kensington Palace and Westminster Abbey to watch the procession. Despite the large numbers, the streets stayed silent as the coffin made its way to the funeral. Not even planes were heard, as they’d been rerouted for the event. Princes Charles, William, Harry, and Philip joined Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, in walking behind the coffin.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest