Prince William Surprises Fans Gathered Outside Kensington Palace for Princess Diana's Birthday

On what would have been Princess Diana‘s 58th birthday, Prince William personally thanked those who were helping to keep her memory alive.

Fans gathered outside Kensington Palace in London — where Diana previously called home and where William and Kate Middleton now live with their three children — on Monday evening were shocked when their small vigil was interrupted by Prince William emerging from inside the palace gates. Photos show the royal, 37, dressed casually in a button-down shirt and slacks while greeting fans with handshakes and talking to them about his late mother, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997.

“William told me he knew we’d been coming here for years and thanked us for what we were doing for his mother,” John Loughrey, 59, told the Daily Mail. “I’m still shaking now. I feel very emotional.”

The mourners decorated the Kensington Palace gate with photos, flowers and flags.

Maria Scott, 48, shared that it was important to keep Princess Diana’s memory alive for the new generations.

“We are here to honor Diana’s legacy,” she told the Daily Mail. “We are two generations down now, and there are children growing up who don’t even know who she is. It’s important that we remind them and remember.”

She added, “None of us could believe it when William suddenly walked down the drive to come and thank us. He really is his mother’s son.”

William also talked about the commemorative statue of his mother to be placed in the Kensington Palace gardens, saying it would be coming “soon, very soon.”

“We just want to make sure it is right,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “It’s important to get it right.”

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Prince Harry recently opened up about how fatherhood, his son Archie was born on May 6, has made him feel the loss of his mother Princess Diana.

During a trip to the Netherlands to launch the official countdown to the Invictus Games in The Hague next year, Harry spoke to Dennis van der Stroon, 31, a former soldier who hopes to compete for The Netherlands Invictus team, during a bike ride.

“I told Harry about my mother, and we talked about our shared experience of missing a mom,” Dennis shared. “He said missing a mother is like missing some kind of security, how you need that as a son and it falls away when you lose your mother. He said he meets a lot of people in his work who have lost a mother, father, sister, brother or relatives and when he hears their story, as he heard my story, he said he doesn’t feel so alone.”

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