London begins cleanup of floral tributes to Diana
September 11, 1997
Web posted at: 1:56 p.m. EDT (1756 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- An army of volunteers on Thursday began
picking up the floral tributes left in memory of
Princess Diana outside St. James's Palace, where her body was
taken after the Paris car crash.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, cab drivers and dozens of volunteer groups were among those helping in the massive
"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," said David Welch of the Royal
Parks service, who is in charge of the cleanup.
Flowers found still to be fresh were to be taken by cabs to London hospitals and nursing homes. Condolence cards,
poems, notes and letters will be sorted and stored in boxes.
Teddy bears and other toys will be collected and distributed
to needy children.
Decaying blooms will be mulched to use for fertilizer to grow flowers in Kensington Gardens, adjacent to Kensington
Palace, where Diana lived.
Welch said it could take up to six weeks to remove all the
blooms in front of St. James's Palace. A similar cleanup is
planned outside Kensington Palace beginning Friday or early
Officials estimate that about 10 to 15 tons of bouquets,
including 60 million individual flowers, are scattered
throughout London to honor the beloved princess.
For volunteers, participation in the cleanup operation brings mixed emotions.
"I'm very... upset, but happy to be here doing it," said one girl.
A young Boy Scout, showing typical Scout honor, added: "I'm
going to tell my children when I'm older about it, and they
probably will be proud of me that I did it."