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Mourners Gather on Anniversary Of Princess DianaUs Tragic Death

By Marjorie Miller
Los Angeles Times
LONDON

As Britain's royal family gathered to pray in private Monday at a small Scottish church, thousands of mourners laid flowers at the gates of Kensington Palace here to mark the first anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.

Flags flew at half staff over Buckingham Palace and on government buildings, and the royal family issued a statement thanking the public for their sympathy and remembrances of the 36-year-old princess, who died in a Paris car crash along with her companion, Dodi Fayed, and their driver last Aug. 31.

Harrods department store, owned by Fayed's father, unveiled a display window shrine to Diana and Fayed - a bronze fountain topped with their pictures and surrounded by candles and flowers.

But otherwise, the commemorations were notably restrained for the "people's princess," who had a fairy tale marriage in 1981, an acrimonious divorce in 1996 and a Hollywood-style death last year. Her royal funeral was watched in 187 countries. Her song, Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," played around the world.

"There had to be a day of remembrance," said Maureen Poole, a prison officer who laid flowers at Kensington Palace on her way to work. "Princess Diana touched people, she was so very kind."

The steady stream of mourners did not match the multitudes who turned out to remember Diana in the week after her death, and the hills of cellophane-wrapped flowers were far more modest. But the handwritten notes outside the palace were a reminder of the love that so many strangers felt for the generous beauty and of how much they identified with her vulnerability.

"We miss you. The Jewel of England who can never be replaced," one card said.

"Used, abused and discarded by the royals and their cronies," said another. "So much loved, missed and mourned by the people who really matter."

The tributes were surrounded by photographs and magazine covers of Diana, who has appeared in the media almost as often in the last year as she did before she died.

Despite polls showing that the public was suffering from "Diana fatigue," media attention to the anniversary did not subside.