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Princess Diana Fans Mark 5th Anniversary of Her Death - 2002-08-30

Fans and admirers of Britain's late Princess Diana are paying homage to her memory, as they mark the fifth anniversary on Saturday of her death.

The tributes are smaller and less emotional now than in 1997, when Britain came to a standstill as the nation grieved over the untimely death of Princess Diana, killed in a Paris car crash at the age of 36.

At Kensington Palace, Diana's royal home in London, dozens of her supporters have been leaving sympathy cards to mark the fifth anniversary of her death. Some have placed floral bouquets in the black wrought-iron entry gate.

Among those commemorating Diana is Julie Cein of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in northeastern England. She is camped out in front of Kensington Palace, wearing a Union Jack, t-shirt and shorts.

She says she always admired Diana's common touch. "She never treated anyone any better than the other, whether they were king, queen, or the homeless person in the street. She treated everyone as equal," she said.

Ms. Cein remains resentful about how Diana was treated by her former husband, Prince Charles. She blames Charles for wrecking the royal marriage, and she says his affair with Camila Parker Bowles makes him unsuitable to ever become king. "With what Charles has done with that, that woman, he is not fit to lead the country," said Ms. Cein.

If Ms. Cein had her way, the crown would pass from Queen Elizabeth directly to the oldest son of Charles and Diana, Prince William. "If you see William, you see Diana," she said. "The same mannerisms. The looks. The shy smile. The way, when he's talking, he puts his head down. Everything about William is Diana. Diana's son if ever there was one."

Terry Hart has come to Kensington Palace from his home in Essex County, east of London.

He says Diana put the rest of the royal family to shame, and now they are trying to emulate her. "When I look at Charles and the family in general, they actually have changed," he said. "I'm sure they are trying to please the public, and prove a point."

Viviana Jose has traveled from her home in Melbourne, Australia, for a vacation in London. She came to Kensington Palace because Diana had lived there. "I think it has a bit of a charm, still left," said Viviana Jose. "It's a pity she's not still around. She did some beautiful things. She stood up for herself, and she fought for a lot of rights that, you know, a lot of other people with power didn't."

Alma Bergie is from Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada. She says the pain of Diana's death has eased with time, but she cherishes the memories. "You remember her, but you're not going to dwell on her anymore," she said. "When it first happened, it was the tears and the sadness. Now it's just a memory. And it's a good memory. It's one that you want to keep."

Still, the national frenzy over Diana, and the wall-to-wall media coverage, have clearly begun to fade in the five years since her death. The only memorial to her in London is a playground a few hundred meters from Kensington Palace. Visitors cannot help but notice that most of the children playing there had not been born yet when the princess died.