A man sets a message and flowers at the bottom of the replica of the flame of the statue of Liberty near the Alma bridge. The country is set to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of princess Diana -- dubbed the "people's princess" -- with a series of tributes and a royal memorial service in London. (AFP)
Britain was set to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of princess Diana -- dubbed the "people's princess" -- with a series of tributes and a royal memorial service in London on Friday.
As major newspapers documented the details of the memorial service, which Diana's sons Princes William and Harry, her ex-husband Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II will attend, a poll indicated respect for the royal family has dipped sharply.
William and Harry, who were just 15 and 12 respectively when their mother died in a high-speed car crash in a Parisian underpass and are now officers in the British Army, were to give specially-selected readings during the service at their regimental chapel.
Some 500 high-profile guests will attend the memorial service, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, his predecessor Tony Blair -- who famously described Diana as the "people's princess" after her death -- and pop singer Elton John, who sang an adapted version of "Candle In The Wind" at her funeral.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican church, has written two prayers for the service.
Controversially, Charles's second wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who Diana blamed for her divorce in 1996, will not be attending, with the Evening Standard newspaper reporting that she will not be in London on Friday.
Though royal officials had initially said that she would be present, Camilla declared on Sunday that she did not want to "divert attention from the purpose of the occasion," reportedly on advice from the queen.
Also not attending is Mohamed Al Fayed, the father of Diana's lover Dodi Fayed -- who also died in the crash that killed Diana -- and the owner of the posh Harrod's department store in London, though one of his daughters has been invited.
Al Fayed has persistently claimed that Diana and his son were killed in an elaborate establishment plot to stop the princess from marrying a Muslim.
Last year, however, a report from Lord John Stevens, the former head of London's Metropolitan Police, ruled out any such plots and said that the crash, which also killed the car's driver Henri Paul, was a "tragic accident".
French investigators, meanwhile, concluded that Paul, an employee of the Fayed-owned Ritz Hotel, was well over the legal alcohol limit when he drove Diana and Dodi to the latter's Paris apartment with paparazzi in hot pursuit.
Diana's death generated an unprecedented outpouring of public grief in Britain. One million people poured onto the streets of London for the funeral and some say the episode changed the country. The tragedy also forced the royal family to present itself as a more open and inclusive institution.
A YouGov poll published in The Daily Telegraph on Friday showed that "respect" for the royal family had dipped to 49 percent -- the first time it dipped below 50 percent in the poll's history -- while 89 percent said that they could recall where they precisely were when they heard of Diana's death.
A steady stream of Diana fans have been tying flowers and cards to the gates of Kensington Palace, her former London residence, where hundreds of thousands of bouquets were left in the days after her death.
The palace is also hosting an exhibition in her memory, as is London's National Portrait Gallery.
Diana's childhood home, Althorp, in central England, where she is buried, is breaking with tradition by opening to the public on the anniversary.
The BBC is re-screening her funeral in full on a digital channel, while several national newspapers issued special Diana supplements through the course of the week.
Another stream of Diana pilgrims is expected to go to the Pont de l'Alma tunnel where Diana and Dodi died.