Blair mutes Diana tribute

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A YEAR after Tony Blair captured the national mood by describing Diana as the "People's Princess", the Prime Minister has ordered the Cabinet to allow the anniversary tomorrow of her death in a Paris car crash to pass without any official comment.

Only Gordon Brown, chairman of the memorial committee, will make a public tribute. On a special Songs of Praise to be shown on BBC1 tonight, the Chancellor will read a poem and pay tribute to the Princess of Wales, saying she "shone a light into areas of life that are often overlooked and showed that individuals can make a difference."

Meanwhile, the flowers that created such a striking image in the days after the Princess's death have returned to her home at Kensington Palace. Hundreds of people, many arriving by the coachload, gathered to lay floral tributes yesterday, waiting patiently to tie handwritten messages and photographs of Diana to the railings. This year, however, there were no tears.

Carolyn McCombe had driven from Doncaster. She and her two sons, Tommy, three, and Ricky, 10, made the same journey a year ago. "I don't know why we've come again, really," she said. "It was just something inside me that made us come." Carole Burt, 56, of Greenwich, south-east London, also found it hard to deal with Diana's death.

"I am feeling very emotional and I can't believe she has died a year ago, although she's never dead as far as I am concerned," she said.

At the Princess's final resting place at the Spencer family seat of Althorp House, Northamptonshire, there was calm as 2,500 ticket holders visited the grounds. Only a handful of bouquets were evident at the estate's east and west gates. One couple from Birmingham, Jim and Sara Berkley, were celebrating their silver wedding anniversary.

A German TV crew filmed a Diana lookalike mingling with mourners. The estate's general manager, David Horton-Fawkes, said: "In a discussion about what is good taste, everyone will have a different opinion. We are not to judge."

In a reminder of the cause of the Princess's death, dozens of families bereaved by road crashes gathered outside Parliament yesterday on behalf of RoadPeace, a charity for road traffic victims. A spokeswoman urged all motorists to drive at 20mph in built-up areas during tomorrow's Bank Holiday out of respect for Diana.

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