Hundreds of people gathered in London today to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana's death.
While Diana's family marked the anniversary with a private service organized by her sons, William and Harry, devoted admirers of the princess turned up at the gates of Kensington Palace, her former residence, to pin posters, collages, poems and bouquets, in memory of her life.
At the upscale department store Harrods, owner Mohammed al Fayed, whose son Dodi also died in the same car accident as Diana, observed two minutes of silence this morning. Al Fayed was not invited to the official memorial service, although his daughter Camilla al Fayed, half-sister to Dodi and a friend of the two princes, was a guest there.
The other Camilla, the longtime mistress and now wife of Diana's ex-husband, Prince Charles, famously pulled out of her scheduled appearance at the service, after severe public criticism of her initial plans to attend it.
A small crowd of about 50 Diana enthusiasts began turning up at Kensington Palace on Thursday. They included visitors from foreign countries like Germany, France and Australia and from England, some traveling to London from Althorp, the site of Diana's ancestral home.
To 8-year-old Australian Stephanie Stavropoulos, who came to Kensington Palace with her parents, "Diana was kind, loving and really special. I wasn't born when she died, but my mum and dad told me all about her."
Her parents, Josie and Jim, echoed her comments. Jim Stavropoulos told ABC News, "Although we have to leave London on Friday, we wanted to come here today anyway, to pay our respects, to remember her. She mattered to a lot of people."
A lot of people from all over the world, it seems, judging from the variety of people who stopped by Thursday to place flowers at the palace gates.
German tourist Dagmar Roese told ABC News, "Although I never used to be a big royal watcher, Lady Di's death was just terrible. There was something very beautiful about her. It's hard to explain."
Looking at the other people gathered by the gates, she said, "I am deeply touched by people's emotion here, on this day."
And emotions ran high among some of Diana's admirers, who said they visited Kensington Palace every year to commemorate the anniversary of her death.
Gaynor Thomas of West Yorkshire, England, said, "I remember when she died. I was at home, had the TV on and suddenly I realized that people were talking about Diana in the past tense. I just … I couldn't stop crying."
In Thomas' eyes, "Diana was just such a breath of fresh air and a real mother to those two boys. And she was a star — so glamorous, as if she was lit from within."
For all the stardom and glamour, however, the refrain that summed up most people's impression of the princess was that "she was just like one of us," as Althorp-based sisters Audrey and Dorothy Lewin put it.
The two septuagenarians, ages 72 and 73 years old, told ABC News that "to us, she was a local girl. We think about her every day. We have all the pictures from her wedding, all the books about her. She brought a new era to the royal family."
According to Camilla Tominey, royal editor at The Sunday Express newspaper, "Diana changed people's impression of the royal family; she spoke to the common man."
"She still has a place in public consciousness," Tominey told ABC News, "because she showed the softer side of the monarchy."