Prince William brings Princess Diana well-wishers to tears with surprise visit to vigil

Prince William brought admirers of his late mother Princess Diana to tears when he surprised them at a vigil to mark her birthday outside Kensington Palace.

A small group of well-wishers had gathered outside the gates since 5.30am to mark the Princess of Wales' 58th birthday, according to the Daily Mail.

William and a small security team surprised the fans at about 6.45pm, shaking hands and thanking them for paying tribute to his mother.

"William told me he knew we'd been coming here for years and thanked us for what we were doing for his mother," 59-year-old John Loughrey told the Daily Mail.

"I'm still shaking now. I feel very emotional."

Another admirer, Maria Scott, 48, said none of the group could believe it when William arrived to the spot they had adorned with bunting and photos of the 'People's Princess'.

"He really is his mother's son," she said.

Photos taken at the palace show the well-wishers overcome with emotion as they came face to face with the Duke of Cambridge.

William also pointed out the spot where a new statue of his mother would "soon" be unveiled in the nearby gardens.

"We just want to make sure it is right. It's important to get it right," he reportedly told the group.