The loss was felt around the world when news of Princess Diana’s death hit the headlines in August 1997. The former wife of Prince Charles and Prince William and Prince Harry’s mother died in a car accident in Paris as her driver sped to get away from pursuing paparazzi, per The Telegraph. Although Diana was divorced from Charles and was therefore no longer a true member of the royal family, she was beloved worldwide and thus given a funeral seemingly fit for a queen. In one of the decades’ defining moments, a very young Harry and William were made to walk behind the casket.
In addition to the state funeral, thousands of mourners from across the U.K. visited Kensington Palace in the days following Diana’s death. Many left bouquets of flowers with thoughtful cards as a tribute to the beloved Diana. If you Google a photo of Kensington Palace in the days immediately after Diana’s death, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the amount of greenery that littered the ground.
Touching though it is, it does raise the question of what exactly happened to all those flowers? Let’s investigate.
Diana would have loved what happened to her flowers
The days following Princess Diana’s death were unlike anything else in the history of the British royal family. The sheer amount of mourning expressed by those who had never personally met Diana was overwhelming to her children. “It was very, very strange after her death,” Prince Harry said in the documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy. “The sort of outpouring of love and emotion from so many people that had never even met her.”
Thousands gathered outside of Kensington palace with offerings of flowers, letters, stuffed animals — you name it. All in all, there were an estimated 15 tons of bouquets equating to about 60 million flowers covering the streets of London in honor of Diana’s death. “It’s completely unprecedented. It’s an occasion that is unique possibly in the history of the world and certainly in anyone’s experience here,” a parks employee told CNN at the time (via Town & Country).
Of course, flowers don’t last forever, so soon enough, city workers and parks employees were faced with the issue of figuring out what to do with decaying bouquets. As soon as Diana was laid to rest, volunteers began to clean up the flowers. Some of the more decayed bunches were used as fertilizer for the palace gardens, while the healthier-looking flowers were sent to hospitals to cheer up sick patients, per Town & Country. We imagine that would have made Diana very happy.
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