Admirers of the late Princess Diana gathered outside Kensington Palace today, a bright sunny day that would have been the troubled royal's 50th birthday. Cards, a cake, a collage, and other mementoes were among the gifts left at the gates of Kensington Palace, where Diana once lived—an echo of the massive, makeshift memorial set up there following her 1997 death in a Paris car crash. "She would've been so popular still. Everyone would have been here to help celebrate," said a 49-year-old Australian woman. "We'll never get to see her grow old."
Although her public image was the "People's Princess," Diana died at a time of turmoil in her life. A discreet and lengthy romance with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan had recently ended; her relationship with wealthy playboy Dodi Fayed, who died with her in the accident, was less than two months old. But it was probably because Diana died young—at only 36—that so many are still drawn to her story. "Marilyn Monroe was an icon, Grace Kelly was an icon, and Princess Diana was an icon," the woman said. "They all died young. They'll be remembered as princesses—beautiful, radiant, princesses."