Diana: death of a princess
History where it happened
When the sudden news of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, broke in the early hours of the morning on 31 August 1997, members of the public streamed to Kensington Palace to lay flowers in her memory and to pay their respects.
Gold gates covered with tributes
Within just a few hours, the tributes covered the iconic gold gates that stand to the south side of the palace. In the days that followed, every piece of railing around the palace would be covered and a carpet of flowers stretched out into Kensington Gardens.
Diana’s funeral was held at Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997. On that morning her cortege left Kensington Palace – her home since her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981 and the place where she had brought up her two children, princes William and Harry.
Public mourning focuses on the palace
Later that day Kensington Palace opened to all those that wished to sign a condolence book for her family. Tens of thousands of people queued across the gardens waiting their turn. Kensington Palace staff worked in rotas so that the palace could be open 24 hours a day until everyone had left their message.
Joanna Marschner, who was curator at the palace in 1997, remembers, ‘It was an extraordinary time for absolutely everyone working in the palace. You really felt you had become caught up in a little bit of the history of this nation’.