An Earlsfield man who describes himself as Princess Diana's number one fan has rented out his flat to finance his attendance at her inquest.

John Loughrey, from Steerforth Road, has become virtually a permanent fixture at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand since the inquest started in September, dutifully attending every day of the hearing.

Mr Loughrey has become somewhat of a celebrity in the last few months, largely due to his unusual face-paint and appearances in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The 52-year-old has long been a committed royalist - he was second in line for the Queen Mother's book of condolences, spent four nights sleeping rough in Kensington Gardens following Diana's death in 1997 and even slept out overnight in Hyde Park on the eve of the opening of the Diana Memorial Fountain.

Eccentric Mr Loughrey said: "Ever since Diana married Prince Charles in 1981, I've been a huge fan of hers.

"She brought such a human touch to the Royal Family and had such a presence about her."

Describing how he came to have the 3-inch letters spelling out "Diana" across his forehead and "Dodi" scrawled either side of his nose, Mr Loughrey spelled out how he had woken up one morning with a clear vision.

He said: "I've always been a huge Diana fan, but I woke up one day last year, around the tenth anniversary of her death, and decided to paint her name on my forehead - it just felt right.

"So I knew what I had to do for her and that meant making sure I was here, at her inquest, every day."

"All I knew was that it had to be blue, because it's a good colour - a royal colour and I know she liked it, so I've been wearing it for four and a half months now. She's very important to me."

Although he never met Diana, Mr Loughrey firmly believes they made a spiritual connection while he visited her floral tribute at Kensington Palace in 1997.

He said: "I had a moment of revelation when I was outside Kensington Palace gates and suddenly I felt four fingers rest on my left shoulder and brush down towards my elbow - I knew it was Diana."

Mr Loughrey has purchased scores of tickets for the inquest and has got some of the major players to autograph them including several of the key witnesses, Diana's former bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones and Mr Al-Fayed himself.

He said: "I am going to try and sell the tickets on eBay but I wouldn't keep the proceeds for myself - I'll donate the money to the Prince's Trust."