‘It feels like yesterday’ – Royal fans remember Diana 24 years after she died

Royal fans have descended on the gardens of Kensington Palace, in west London, to visit the statue of Diana, Princess of Wales on the 24th anniversary of her death.

Scores of well-wishers queued up on Tuesday afternoon to gain access to the Sunken Garden, where the memorial commissioned by her sons was unveiled last month.

Visitors said the tragic accident “felt like yesterday”. Many could recall exactly where they were when they heard Diana, who was 36, had died in a car crash in Paris on August 31 1997.

On Tuesday, Historic Royal Palaces allowed access to the Cradle Walk around the Sunken Garden between 3pm to 5pm for the anniversary.

Devoted fans of Diana make a pilgrimage to leave flowers and messages at the ornate Golden Gates of her former London home each year.

Keith Stevenson, 73, from Surrey, said he had visited Kensington Palace every year since the incident.

“I am a royalist in general, a true blue, and when I first saw Diana give an interview I thought ‘oh my’,” he told the PA news agency.

“It was the way she expressed herself, with class.

Statue of Diana, Princess of Wales
Members of the public view the statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace (PA)

“Then (the accident) happened and it was awful. I’ve been back to Kensington Palace every year since to pay my respects.

“In the statue she’s there with little children which sums Diana up extremely well, absolutely. It’s cleverly done, not what I expected, but it’s essential to have it.”

Christi Weild, visiting from New York, said the princess’s death had been a “momentous, life-defining” event.

“Americans all love Diana,” she said.

“I remember where I was, it was such a momentous life defining moment and so everyone remembers and still feels it, still feels that absence.

“It’s been 24 years and it feels like it was yesterday.”

Alison Jones, another well-wisher, added: “She was just an icon really and everyone loved her. She was just a young girl.”

She added: “I remember exactly how we heard. It was a Sunday morning, and we switched the radio on and found out Diana had been killed in an accident.

“We dashed downstairs, put the television on and that was it for the rest of the day. It just took over everybody’s lives, certainly for a week.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the area of Kensington Gardens has only been accessible to the public from Wednesdays to Sundays.

William, the Duchess of Cambridge and their three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – are understood to be commemorating the anniversary privately.

Nicknamed the People’s Princess for her caring, open approach, Diana was known for her devotion to William and Harry, the breakdown of her marriage to the Prince of Wales, her personal struggles, and her humanitarian charity work.