Whatever one felt about Diana, Princess of Wales, living in London during the hysteria which followed her death last August was a profoundly depressing experience for many: huge queues at rush hour, long faces in bars, a general sense that if you laughed in the streets you might get lynched.
Still, for every cloud, there is someone who finds a silver lining. The florists will, no doubt, be crying all the way to the bank again this year, as will every refreshment trader between the Tube and Kensington Palace.
The proprietors of Cafe Diana had a brainwave when they hit upon an idea to transform their modest kebab shop before Diana, Princess of Wales gained her saint-like status. Of course, having the good fortune to have premises immediately opposite the gates of Kensington Palace probably helped. Similarly, having wrought the change, being on the route of the princess's jogs, allowing her to notice that their walls were covered in memorabilia, proved no end of a boost.
Among the vast quantity of framed magazine pictures of the princess, they also have letters from her and her ladies-in-waiting, as well as a photo of her with the staff. And a framed review from, of all papers, the Calgary Herald. Americans seem to form the bulk of the clientele; women, mostly, talking quietly over their salads.
Apart from that, it is a completely unremarkable cafe: pleasant enough, comfortable, and charging Kensington prices in Notting Hill. "Diana's Dishes" (no, really) consist of Middle Eastern food: chicken kebabs, felafel and houmous at pounds 4.50 to pounds 8 a pop. I had a very nice felafel and houmous sandwich for pounds 5.50. My friend, glaring gloomily at the fashion plates and intoning that food and the princess were not automatic bedmates, almost finished his chicken tikka sandwich, despite having had lunch before we came out.
The Americans, as they paid, repeated the mantra: "You have a lovely place here. It's so good to come to a place like this." As good a place as any for a pilgrim to find like-minded mourners.
Cafe Diana, 5 Wellington Terrace, London W2 (0171-792 9606)Reuse content