Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Fans of Princess Diana gathered at dawn at the gates of Kensington Palace on Thursday to celebrate the life of a woman who transformed Britain and its royal family when she died 20 years ago in a Paris car crash.

One of the most famous women in the world, Diana was killed aged 36 on Aug. 31, 1997, when her limousine crashed in a tunnel as it sped away from paparazzi giving chase on motorbikes.

Her death prompted the biggest outpouring of grief seen in Britain in recent times and hurt the monarchy, which was accused of reacting coldly.

The events that followed, when Queen Elizabeth promised to learn from Diana’s life, are regarded as a turning point in the modernization of the country and how the royal family relates to the public.

“She brought a breath of fresh air to the royal family,” said Caryll Foster, 57, who got to the palace for 3:00 a.m. to mark the time when the news of Diana’s death broke.

“The royal family can be a bit cold, and she was warm hearted and kind. She was very special and we want to keep her memory alive.”

On Thursday, fans gathered in the dark to lay candles and remember a woman who married Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, in a glittering 1981 wedding ceremony before their bitter divorce in 1996.

The 20th anniversary of Diana’s death has prompted a renewed fascination with the “People’s Princess”, as she was dubbed by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, with her two sons Prince William and Harry leading the tributes.

The front pages of newspapers showed the two royals examining flowers and notes left for their mother, next to the same image taken 20 years ago when, aged 15 and 12, they met mourners and read some of the thousands of messages left at the gates.

In documentaries broadcast in recent weeks, the two men have spoken about the trauma they suffered from their mother’s death and their sense of confusion and bewilderment at the country’s grief.

The Times newspaper said on Thursday the fact the royal princes could speak so openly about their emotions showed the lasting legacy of Diana, one of the first royal figures to talk about her emotions.

“Their courage to be openly vulnerable and to talk about these issues is a mark of how the royal family has changed and an example of the role a modern royal family can play in British life,” it said in an editorial.

“The princes have led the way in dispensing with the stiff upper lip against which Diana railed.” (Reuters)

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Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Pictures and flags hang on the gates of Kensington Palace in London to pay tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

A woman takes a photograph as people crowd around the gates of Kensington Palace in London to pay tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

People crowd around the gates of Kensington Palace in London to pay tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

A royal fan holds a book to remember the late Diana, Princess of Wales, outside Kensington Palace in London, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Frank Augstein/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Photographs and flowers are placed by people in memory of the late Princess Diana above the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Royal fans hold a Welse flag to remember the late Diana, Princess of Wales, outside Kensington Palace in London, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Frank Augstein/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

A portrait of late Princess Diana is pictured above the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

A man lays flowers near the Golden Gates of Kensington Palace, ahead of the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, London on Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Graffitis are pictured near the makeshift monument for the late Princess Diana above the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Royal fans for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, cut a cake outside Kensington Palace in London, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Frank Augstein/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

People crowd around the gates of Kensington Palace in London to pay tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

People crowd around the gates of Kensington Palace in London to pay tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

A woman poses for a photograph as people crowd around the gates of Kensington Palace in London to pay tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. Tributes at the gates are to mark the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997. (Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Flowers and tributes outside Kensington Palace where people came to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Princess Diana on Aug. 31, 2017 in London, England. (Photo: Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Images)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

A royal fan for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, stands outside Kensington Palace to pay tribute to her in London, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Frank Augstein/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

People pay tribute to the late Princess Diana above the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Notes for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, hang on the fence outside Kensington Palace to pay tribute to her in London, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Frank Augstein/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Tributes, candles and flowers are laid by royal fans for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, outside Kensington Palace in London, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Royalist John Loughrey wears a Princess Diana badge on his Union Jack hat as people pay tribute at the gates of Kensington Palace on the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana at Kensington Palace on Aug. 31, 2017 in London, England. (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

As crowds of royalist well-wishers gather, a spontaneous memorial of flowers, photos and memorabilia grows outside Kensington Palace, the royal residence of Princess Diana who died in a car crash in Paris exactly 20 years ago, on Aug. 31, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo: Richard Baker/Getty Images)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

People pay tribute to late Britain’s Princess Diana above the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Britain’s Prince William, left, and Prince Harry place flowers and tributes taken from members of the public at the Golden Gates of Kensington Palace, London, Aug. 30, 2017 on the eve of the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death. (Photo: Alastair Grant/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Photographs and flowers are placed by people in memory of the late Princess Diana above the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Vehicles pass through the Pont de l’Alma tunnel where Princess Diana died in a car crash 20 years ago, in Paris, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Thibault Camus/AP)

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Tributes, candles and flowers are laid by royal fans for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, outside Kensington Palace in London, Aug. 31, 2017. (Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

Fans pay tribute to Princess Diana on the 20th anniversary of her death

Well-wishers and Royal ‘enthusiasts’ gather outside the gates of Kensington Palace where tributes continue to be left, on the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana on Aug. 31, 2017 in London, England. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)