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Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales


Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales

Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales
The funeral cortege passing the Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner
Date Saturday, 6 September 1997 (1997-09-06)
Location Westminster Abbey, London (official ceremony)
Althorp (resting place)
Participants British Royal Family, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Lady Jane Fellowes, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, Elton John

The public funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales started on 6 September 1997 at 9:08 am in London, when the tenor bell sounded to signal the departure of the cortege from Kensington Palace. The coffin was carried from the palace on a gun carriage, along Hyde Park to St. James' Palace, where Diana's body had remained for five days before being taken to Kensington Palace. The Union Flag on top of the palace was lowered to half mast. The official ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey in London and finished at the resting place in Althorp.

Two thousand people attended the ceremony in Westminster Abbey[1] while the British television audience peaked at 32.10 million, one of the United Kingdom's highest viewing figures ever.[2] Two billion people traced the event worldwide,[3] making it one of the most watched events in history.


  • The funeral 1
  • The burial 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

The funeral

Diana's coffin, draped with the royal standard with an ermine border, was brought to London from the Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, by Diana's ex-husband Charles, Prince of Wales and her two sisters on 31 August 1997.[4] After being taken to a private mortuary it was put at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace.[4]

Diana's coffin borne through the streets of London on its way to Westminster Abbey

The event was not a state funeral, but a royal ceremonial funeral including royal pageantry and Anglican funeral liturgy.[5] A large display of flowers was installed at the gates of Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace. Eight members of The Queen's Welsh Guards accompanied Diana's coffin, draped in the royal standard with an ermine border, on the one-hour-forty-seven-minute ride through London streets. On top of the coffin were three wreaths of white flowers from her brother, the Earl Spencer, and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.[6][7] At St. James's Palace, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, her sons, and her brother joined to walk behind.[8] Five hundred representatives of various charities the Princess had been involved with joined behind them in the funeral cortege.[9] The coffin passed Buckingham Palace where members of the Royal Family were waiting outside. Queen Elizabeth II bowed her head as it went by.[9] More than one million people lined the streets of London, and flowers rained down onto the cortege from bystanders.[6][10]

The west door of Westminster Abbey, venue of the funeral

The ceremony at Westminster Abbey opened at 11:00 Richard Branson, Luciano Pavarotti, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.[11][12] The Prime Minister Tony Blair read an excerpt from the First Epistle to the Corinthians: "And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love".[13] Among other invitees were the King of Spain, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, the King of the Hellenes, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan, and Nelson Mandela.[14]

I thought it was very important to project it from a nation's standpoint. I wanted to make it sound like a country singing it. From the first couple of lines I wrote [which began "Goodbye England's Rose"], the rest sort of fell into place

Bernie Taupin on writing the lyrics for "Candle in the Wind 1997"[15]

The Dean of Westminster Wesley Carr were also present in the abbey. The Anglican service opened with the traditional singing of "God Save the Queen". The pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 546), Antonín Dvořák, Camille Saint-Saëns, Gustav Holst and other composers were played throughout the ceremony.

During the service, Elton John sang "Candle in the Wind" which had been re-written in tribute to Diana.[16] He had contacted his writing partner Bernie Taupin, asking him to revise the lyrics of his 1973 song "Candle in the Wind" to honour Diana, and Taupin rewrote the song accordingly.[15] Only a month before Diana's death she had been photographed comforting John at the funeral of their mutual friend Gianni Versace.[17][18]

"Song for Athene" by British composer John Tavener, with text by Mother Thekla, a Greek Orthodox nun, drawn from the Orthodox liturgy and Shakespeare's Hamlet, was sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir conducted by Martin Neary as Diana's cortège departed from the main nave of Westminster Abbey. On Sunday, 7 September, an additional service for Diana was performed at Westminster Abbey in response to demand of people.[19]

The burial

Aerial view of Althorp. Diana is buried on the small island in the middle of the ornamental Round Oval lake

The burial occurred privately later the same day. Diana's former husband, sons, mother, siblings, a close friend, and a clergyman were present. Diana's body was clothed in a black long-sleeved dress designed by Catherine Walker, which she had chosen some weeks before. A set of rosary beads was placed in her hands, a gift she had received from Mother Teresa, who died the same week as Diana. Her grave is on an island () within the grounds of Althorp Park, the Spencer family home for centuries.[20]

At the ceremony, the Royal Standard which had covered the coffin was removed by Diana's brother moments before she was buried, and replaced with the Spencer family flag; the Earl claimed that "She (Diana) is a Spencer now." Princes Charles, William and Harry agreed to the change. However, Paul Burrell, Diana's former butler, condemned the move, saying, "It had more to do with his Spencer v Windsor war than doing what Diana would have wanted. It was inappropriate and disrespectful. I knew it was not what Diana would have wanted. With that act, her brother was depriving the Princess of her proper status in life – a status of which she was proud."[21]

The original plan was for Diana to be buried in the Spencer family vault at the local church in nearby Great Brington, but Lord Spencer said that he was concerned about public safety and security and the onslaught of visitors that might overwhelm Great Brington. He decided that Diana would be buried where her grave could be easily cared for and visited in privacy by William, Harry, and other Spencer relatives.[22]

The island is in an ornamental lake known as The Round Oval within Althorp Park's gardens.[23] A path with thirty-six oak trees, marking each year of her life, leads to the Oval. Four black swans swim in the lake. In the water there are water lilies, which, in addition to white roses, were Diana's favourite flowers. On the southern verge of the Round Oval sits the Summerhouse, previously in the gardens of Admiralty House, London, and now adapted to serve as a memorial to Diana.[24] An ancient arboretum stands nearby, which contains trees planted by the family.[22] The Spencer family's decision to bury the Princess in this secluded--and private--location has enabled them make a great deal of money through charging the public for admission. [25]

The burial party was provided by the 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, who were given the honour of carrying the Princess across to the island and lay her to rest. Diana was the Regiment's Colonel-in-Chief from 1992 to 1997.

See also


  1. ^ Princess Diana Entertainment Weekly
  2. ^ "Tracking 30 years of TV's most watched programmes". BBC. Retrieved 20 January 2015
  3. ^ John Urry. Global complexity, Wiley-Blackwell, 2003 p. 134
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Paul D. L. Avis. A church drawing near: spirituality and mission in a post-Christian culture, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003
  6. ^ a b "Diana 1961–1997: The Cortege – A flower-strewn path leading to the Abbey". The Independent. Retrieved 8 June 2012
  7. ^ "World watches as Britain bids farewell to Diana". CNN. Retrieved 8 June 2012
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b "The Last Journey Begins". BBC. Retrieved 8 June 2012
  10. ^ "Diana: Sights and Sounds – The Funeral". BBC. Retrieved 8 June 2012
  11. ^ a b Special Report: Princess Diana, 1961–1997 TIME
  12. ^ Joal Ryan (6 September 1997) Farewell, "Mummy": Princess Diana's Funeral E!online
  13. ^ Brian MacArthur. Requiem: Diana, Princess of Wales 1961–1997 – Memories and Tributes, Arcade Publishing, 1998, p. 165
  14. ^ A Hot Ticket for a Sad Occasion Washington Post
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ Barry Miles (2008). "Massive Music Moments" p. 207. Anova Books, 2008
  17. ^ The Advocate 14 Oct 1997 Retrieved 25 December 2010
  18. ^ Fred Bronson The Billboard book of number one hits p. 860. Billboard Books, 1997
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^

Further reading

  • Nigel Dacre. The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. Court Historian, 8:1 (2003), 85–90
  • Adrian Kear, Deborah Lynn Steinberg. Mourning Diana: nation, culture, and the performance of grief, Routledge, 1999
  • Tony Walter. The mourning for Diana, Berg Publishers, 1999

External links

  • BBCDetails of the funeral service by
  • the Washington PostDetailes of the funeral service by
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