LONDON - Princess Diana's family solemnly marked the 10th anniversary of her death Friday at a service organized by her sons, while admirers tied scores of bouquets, poems and portraits to the gates of her former home.
"To us, just two loving children, she was quite simply the best mother in the world," Prince Harry, her younger son, said in a eulogy.
"When she was alive, we completely took for granted her unrivaled love of life, laughter, fun and folly," Harry said.
"She was our guardian, friend and protector. She never once allowed her unfaltering love us to go unspoken or undemonstrated."
It was a day for broadcasting video snippets of one wedding and funeral; for rehashing the rights and wrongs of the failed marriage of Diana and Prince Charles.
It was one more day for dredging up questions about how she came to die in a car crash in Paris with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, and for the Daily Telegraph to publish an essay which explained "why we were right to weep for Diana."
Harry and his brother, Prince William, were credited with organizing the noontime service at the Guards' Chapel near Buckingham, but Charles was blamed by many for the furor over an invitation to his current wife.
Camilla, who was blamed by Diana for breaking up her marriage, decided to stay home. That decision followed quickly after the Mail on Sunday published a commentary by Diana's friend, Rosa Monckton, saying the princess would have been "astonished" that Camilla was invited.
"Actually, she would have been astonished to learn that her former husband had married his longtime mistress," Monckton wrote.
Camilla's first wedding, to Andrew Parker Bowles, had been at the Guards' Chapel.
A few hundred people had gathered outside by midmorning, in contrast to the masses who lined the route of Diana's funeral procession to Westminster Abbey 10 years ago.
"She reached our lives deeply, even in America. She brought life to the palace and warmth, and that's what the monarchy needed," said Arlene Fitch, 54, of Boston, one of the early arrivals.
Fitch and her sister, Marie Schofield, 46, from Florida, said they planned their vacation to be in London at the time of the service.
"She (Diana) got married the same year as me, she had children the same year as me and, as her boys have grown up, they have done just the same kind of things as our boys would do," Schofield said.
Diana's most ardent admirers tied scores of bouquets, poems and pictures to the gates of Kensington Palace, Diana's former home, but the display paled in comparison to the vast carpet of blossoms that accumulated in the days immediately after her death.
Rev. Frank Gelli, who has led an informal service outside Kensington Palace every year, said this probably would be the last one. "It would be good if the princess was allowed to rest," he told a reporter.
Eileen Neathey, 56, of London, treasured the memory of a chance encounter with Diana at a hospital, where Neathey's mother was a patient.
"I had been up all night and was very upset, and when I bumped into Diana I burst into tears," said Neathey, who was outside Kensington Palace. "She put her arm round me and comforted me - that's the way she was."
John Loughrey, 52, had painted "Diana" on his forehead and "the truth?" on his cheek. "We must get to the bottom of how she died," Loughrey said.
"I saved up money to be here today," said Susan Chickowski, 38, a florist from Saskatchewan, Canada.
"When she passed away, I felt like I'd lost my best friend. She's been such a big part of my life," Chickowski said. "Now it's time to move on, 10 years on, for myself personally."
Queen Elizabeth II headed the list of guests at the service, along with her husband Prince Philip. Prince Edward, Charles' younger brother, and his sister Princess Anne - who reportedly didn't intend to come - were in the congregation.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Prime Minister John Major, who was in office when the royal marriage broke up, also attended. More than 110 representatives of charities and other organizations that Diana supported.
Sir Elton John came, but would not reprise his reworking of "Candle in the Wind," which he performed at the funeral.
Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, who wrote two gossipy books about his years in her service, was not invited. Nor was Patrick Jephson, the princess' former private secretary, who also wrote two books about her.
Mohamed al Fayed, who accuses Prince Philip of masterminding a plot to kill Diana and Dodi Fayed, also was not on the guest list. He observed his own two minutes of silence at Harrods, his department store, an hour before the memorial service. His daughter, Camilla al Fayed, attended the official service.
"There's definitely something more to it than meets the eye, and I think Mr. al Fayed is probably right that the government were involved," said Alison Wormall, 46, who traveled from central England to join the observance at Harrods.
A poll commissioned by Channel 4 television found that 25 percent of the public believes Diana was murdered, but 59 percent thought it was an accident. The telephone poll of 1,016 adults conducted this week had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
A prayer written for the memorial service by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, recalled "her vulnerability and her willingness to reach out to the excluded and forgotten."
The royal family had refrained from any public remembrance of the anniversary of the princess' death.
This year, however, William and Harry took the lead in organizing the memorial service, as well as a rock concert on Diana's birthday, July 1, which drew 70,000 paying fans.