Veterans of the First and Second World War were granted a rare audience with Princess Diana when she dropped in to St David's Home for Disabled Servicemen 20 years ago this week.

The late Princess of Wales spent more than an hour talking to the home's 50 residents, who had spent hours "putting their best bib and tucker on and polishing up their medals", according to the home's administrator,Tom Connell.

She was greeted on November 3, 1988 by the Mayor of Ealing at the time,Fred Dunckley, whose nerves on the day were further rattled by the bawdy tales being bandied around by the old soldiers.

He said: "I was little anxious when I saw her laughing with one particular gentleman. He'd just told me a risque story and I wouldn't have put it past him telling it to Diana as well."

The princess was in a lighthearted mood herself,joking with one veteran who had a bottle of sherry next to his chair that it was a little early in the morning to start drinking.

Diana was given some strange and memorable souvenirs made by residents at the home in Castlebar Hill, Ealing, including an ornamental wheelbarrow filled with flowers and two concrete gnomes to give to William and Harry.

The home's Sister Magdalene,who had been working there for 37 years, said afterwards: "It was wonderful to meet her and she had such a way with the patients. I asked her to bring Charles with her if she came again."