Churches full for final farewell

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Churches around the country were overflowing yesterday as worshippers gathered together to say a final farewell to the Princess of Wales.

In special services, heartfelt prayers were said for Diana and her family as the nation struggled to return to normal life following her funeral.

Organisers of a commemorative service in Birmingham's Centenary Square were amazed when 20,000 people turned up to pay their respects.

The mourners bowed their heads and wiped tears from their eyes as Bishop Mark Santer spoke on behalf of the people of Birmingham.

In Dublin, more than 3,000 people in the Church of Ireland Cathedral honoured Diana at a memorial service led by Ireland's President Mary Robinson.

A requiem mass at Salford Cathedral drew another thousand mourners, who laid bouquets and lit candles to mark the mass.

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Michael Turnbull, urged 3,000 people packed into Durham Cathedral not to make an idol of Diana. "She was frequently portrayed in the media as a fantasy figure ... Yet we know that idolatry misses the reality and devalues the precious truth about her," he said.

Diana was also honoured at a number of other events being held up and down the country.

Princess Michael of Kent addressed the crowds at a charity polo match she hosted next door to Highgrove House in Gloucestershire where Prince Charles was comforting his sons William and Harry.

She told the spectators that she had considered cancelling the event but said: "I know in my heart she would have wished us to carry on.

We were neighbours at Kensington Palace and used to wave to each other from the windows. She had such a feeling for the plight of the young and sick. In her memory we should continue her work."

The National Anthem was played and a minute's silence held at the Shepway Air Show in Kent and cyclists taking part in a charity ride in south London each wore a single flower in memory of Diana.

Meanwhile, a 12,000-strong crowd at Watford Football Club gave Elton John a standing ovation yesterday when he took his seat for the first time since resigning as the club's chairman.

Watford fans had been warned that the singer, who stirred the nation on Saturday with his special performance of "Candle in the Wind", would not be addressing the crowd.

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