Diana, Princess of Wales
died in Paris on 31 August 1997. The Prince of Wales
and her two sisters Lady Jane Fellowes
and Lady Sarah McCorquodale
flew to Paris and returned with her body to RAF Northolt
in London. Pallbearer
s of the Queen's Fleet Colour Squadron carried her in a coffin covered in the Royal Standard
Amid mourning unparalleled in history, a state funeral was arranged for Saturday, 6 September 1997, in Westminster Abbey, at 11 a.m. Five hundred representatives of charities were invited, to commemorate the People's Princess. Several million people watched the service in Hyde Park over large screens, and virtually everywhere in the world it was broadcast live to the exclusion of all else. The nation stopped.
At 9.13 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday morning Diana's coffin, draped in the Royal Standard and bearing two wreaths, one of white lilies from her Spencer family, and one of white roses accompanied by a card saying "MUMMY", left Kensington Palace borne on a gun carriage accompanied by horses and men of the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, and men of the First Battalion Welsh Guards, who would act as pallbearers. As it became visible entering Kensington Road a horrified keening broke out and fled across the crowd.
I broke down and wept profusely as she passed. So small, so unmilitary, amid all that.
The Tenor Bell of Westminster Abbey tolled, half muffled, once per minute, as the procession crawled through London.
As it passed Buckingham Palace, the Queen bowed her head and all the Royal Family stood there to mourn her. For the first time ever, the British national flag was raised over the home of Britain's monarch. It reached the top of the flagstaff, then was lowered to half mast, to allow Death's invisible banner to fly above it.
The cortege arrived at the Great West Door of the Abbey at 10.55. The Welsh Guards removed their bearskins and formed a party of pallbearers. The bell began to ring more frequently. The organ music began.
by William Harris (1883-1973)
- The National Anthem
Diana's coffin entered the Abbey and stopped. All rose, there and out in Hyde Park where we sat as if for a picnic, and all of us, millions and millions of us, sang God Save the Queen.
- The Sentences
As the cortege preceded by the Collegiate body moved towards the Quire and Sacrarium, the Choir sang passages from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, which have been used at every royal funeral since that of Charles II.
- The Bidding
spoken by Dr Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster
- I Vow to Thee, My Country
Diana's favourite hymn, sung at her wedding; music by Gustav Holst.
- If I should die
A poem by A. Price Hughes, traditionally read at Spencer family funerals, read today by her sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale.
- Libera Me
The BBC Singers and Lynne Dawson sang this from the Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi. A favourite piece of music of Diana's.
- Time is too slow
A short poem, another Spencer family favourite, read by her other sister Jane. It only lasts a few seconds but Jane's voice is spookily like Diana's.
- The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Hymn, by J.B. Dykes (1823-1876) and H.W. Baker (1821-1877), from Psalm 23.
- The Prime Minister
Tony Blair read 1 Corinthians 13, "Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels..."; the canonical New Testament definition of love. He was criticized later for being stiff and theatrical.
- Candle in the Wind
Sung by Elton John, a revision of his song about Marilyn Monroe: the lyrics may be found under the node Goodbye England's Rose. For many people this, the presence of popular art amid the ancient ceremonial of a royal funeral, was the defining moment.
- The Tribute
Diana's brother Earl Spencer delivered a speech of eulogy that is burned upon the minds of everyone who lived through that time. "I stand before you today the representative of a family in grief, in a country in mourning, before a world in shock...". He attacks the Royal Family, he attacks tabloids, he says don't canonize her. Towards the far end of the speech when he talks about William and Harry he loses control and weeps as he speaks. When he concludes, the crowds of millions outside applaud him. Inside the Abbey the applause is taken up by everyone, everyone except the stiff, frozen, isolated Royal Family.
- Make me a channel of your peace
Hymn of St Francis of Assisi
- The Prayers
by Dr George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
- Air from County Derry
- The Lord's Prayer
- The Blessing
- Cwm Rhondda
Hymn, first line "Guide me O thou great Redeemer", anthem of the crowds at Cardiff Arms Park, where Diana as Princess of Wales attended the rugby.
- The Commendation
by the Dean
Music of John Tavener, combining the Greek Orthodox liturgy with the lines from Hamlet, "May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest". While this is performed the cortege is moved out of the church. At the half-way point, five minutes into the piece, the music and the bells go silent.
A minute's silence is observed.
Diana, Princess of Wales left Westminster Abbey, was taken up Oxford Street, onto the M1, was taken in procession out of London into Northamptonshire, to Althorp near the village of Great Brington, to the Spencer family estate. She was buried on an island on a lake.
Diana, Queen of Hearts, Lady of the Lake.