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Di Remembrances Subdued

Vistors inspect flowers, messages and other objects placed on the gates of Kensington Palace in London, Saturday Aug. 31, 2002, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of Princess Di
AP
Five years after Princess Diana's death prompted an astonishing public outpouring of grief, Britain remembered her Saturday in far more subdued fashion, marking a sad anniversary with small, personal gestures and private recollections.

Hundreds of bouquets piled up outside Kensington Palace, Diana's former home, far fewer than the thousands that formed an ocean of floral tributes when the palace's ornate iron gates were a focal point for national mourning in 1997.

And at any time Saturday there was never more than about a hundred well-wishers in front of the palace, some of them people out for a stroll when they happened upon the display.

Foreign tourists mingled with British fans of the princess outside the palace, in the heart of the capital.

A few balloons fluttered above the gates and a basket of silk flowers sat nearby, beneath a picture of the late princess. "Diana we miss you," one card said.

While most of the messages expressed feelings of grief, one, scrawled on a sheet of white paper and pinned to the palace's iron gates, read simply 'Stuff Camilla' — a less than complimentary reference to Camilla Parker-Bowles, the long-term lover of British heir to the throne Prince Charles.

Some of Diana's most fervent fans resent Parker-Bowles, seeing her as a pale shadow of the princess.

Diana's sons, Princes William, 20, and Harry, 17, spent a weekend out of the public eye with their father, Prince Charles, and grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, at the family's estate at Balmoral, in the Scottish Highlands.

"It is a private time," said a spokeswoman for St. James's Palace, where the young princes live with their father. "They will be remembering their mother in their own private way."

As in previous years, no official commemoration of the death was arranged.

Diana's brother Earl Spencer, whose searing eulogy at her Westminster Abbey funeral was watched around the world, said he would spend Saturday at home with family and friends.

A trickle of visitors left flowers outside Althorp, the family home where Diana is buried on an island in the middle of a small lake. Estate spokesman David Fawkes said about 40 bouquets had been taken from the front gates to the island. The house, which is 70 miles northwest of London, was closed to the public on Saturday.

Those outside said they still believed the princess embodied the best of Britain.

"Princess Diana was something to look up to, someone incredibly special, good and kind to everyone no matter who they were," said Freda Thatcher, 71. "They say time heals but she is always there in the mind."

Diana's dazzling image has begun to dim of late and the official memorial for her in London still has not been built.

"I sense that she is fading already," said Penny Junor, a journalist and author who often writes about the British royalty. Still, she said, "I think Diana's legacy will survive."

One mourner at Kensington Palace agreed.

"We will never forget you," said a card left outside. "Even though it seems a lot of people have, we have forgotten nothing. We will always miss you."

At Harrods, the London department store owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi died in the high-speed crash with Diana on Aug. 31, 1997, several windows were lined in black in honor of the couple.

"Five years ago this week, a tragedy occurred in Paris," read a message inside the display, which also included wreaths with white roses and lilies. "This sad event caused the deaths of Diana, princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed. These windows are dedicated to them both and the love they shared for each other and life itself."

Driver Henri Paul also perished in the crash. An investigation concluded that he had been drinking and was driving at a high speed.

Near the accident site in Paris, a gleaming copper replica of the flame of the Statue of Liberty was wrapped with a thick red ribbon bearing the words "To Diana, Aug. 31, 1997." More than 20 bouquets lay at the base of the statue, a focal point for mourners since the accident.

Arthur Edwards, veteran royal photographer for the Sun newspaper, said it was natural that the grief has subsided since the first shock of Diana's death.

"People have not forgotten her, but I think everybody moves on," he said. "I imagine that Diana will have ... a major place in our history, because she, for 17 years, was the best ambassador this country ever had. ... When you look at William, it's just like looking at the princess herself."

While the relatively low key scenes in London were in stark contrast to those of five years ago, the woman who dominated tabloid headlines in life continues to do so in death.

The latest revelations about her life came in a tell-all book by one of her former bodyguards Ken Wharfe.

His book, "Diana: Closely Guarded Secret" was well timed to hit the shops this week and provide newspaper editors with titillating tales of the time the princess allowed Wharfe to see her naked, or when she leapt off a balcony to escape the prying eyes of paparazzi photographers.

The book is reported to have made princes William and Harry, "incandescent" with rage.

Diana's mother used the anniversary to rebuke former friends and associates who she says betrayed the princess's trust by selling lurid stories about her private life.

Frances Shand Kydd also bemoaned what she called the commercialisation of Diana's death and appealed to the country to show more sensitivity to the feelings of William, Harry and other family members.

"I am certainly disappointed that since her death so many people she trusted have broken the trust, and, for financial gain, have spilled the beans," she said in a British TV interview due to be aired on Sunday.