Charles and princes thank public for their sympathy

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The Independent Online
Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry have expressed their thanks to the public for its sympathy and support following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The Royal family has received more than 300,000 messages of condolence.

It was also announced yesterday that the Prince of Wales will carry out his first public engagement since the fatal accident in Paris and take part in a walkabout.

The Prince and his advisers are believed to have considered postponing the visit to Greater Manchester, which was arranged before the Princess died. However, it was decided it would be more appropriate to carry out the engagement.

At St James's Palace, the Prince has received 7,000 faxes and telegrams of condolence as well as as a large number of messages on the Internet. They will be seen by the Princes, William and Harry.

Cash donations are being forwarded to Kensington Palace for the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund. Stamps from envelopes will also be used to benefit charities.

A team of volunteers began the task of clearing the field of flowers outside Kensington Palace yesterday morning. Around 20 members of the Woman's Royal Voluntary Service and a dozen Royal Parks staff began sifting through the hundreds of thousands of bouquets, messages and tributes.

Elton John's reworked version of "Candle in the Wind" became available in Paris yesterday with reports of huge sales. In Britain, queues were expected this morning outside record shops for the song's British release. Shops have placed orders for 1.5 million copies, but only 250,000 copies have been pressed so far because of the short notice. American outlets have ordered an unprecedented 3.4 million copies.

Elton John has refused to let footage of his tribute to Diana appear in videos being produced by BBC and ITN. A spokesman for the singer said: "ITN stated it would donate all profits from the sale of the video to the Memorial Fund." A BBC Worldwide spokesman said the corporation, too, was not making any money out of the video.

The body of Henri Paul, the driver of the car in which the Princess and her companion Dodi Fayed also died, was yesterday released for burial near his family home in Brittany today, effectively ending the possibility of further tests to establish his physical and mental condition at the time of the accident two weeks ago.

n Two women tourists jailed for walking off with armfuls of tributes left in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, were yesterday freed by an appeal judge who wanted to reflect the country's "spirit of compassion" in the wake of her death. They had each been sentenced to 28 days.

Agnesa Siherska, 50, and Maria Rigociova, 56, both from Slovakia, said they adored the Princess and had only wanted to keep the tributes taken from outside Westminster Abbey as "everlasting" memories to give to the people of their country.