Diana 1961-1997: Last journey to her place of rest

The funeral route from Kensington Palace to Althorp planned with military precision
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The Independent Online
Diana, Princess of Wales, began the journey to her final resting place last night when her coffin was taken by hearse from the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace to her apartments at Kensington Palace.

Thousands lined the route silently as she passed. Today, the mourners will be counted in millions.

The route to Westminster Abbey, and from there on to Althorp Park, the Spencers' Northamptonshire seat, has been planned with military precision. Shortly after sunrise, Diana's coffin, draped in the Royal Standard and covered with family wreaths, will be loaded on to a gun carriage by eight bearers plucked from the ranks of the First Battalion Welsh Guards.

It will lie on an oak board suspended above a 13 pounder gun barrel which saw action during the First World War. A similar gun carriage was first used at a state funeral for the burial of Queen Victoria in 1901.

At 9.08am, six horses and 10 men from the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, led by Capt Grant Chanter, will pass through the gates of Kensington Palace to begin the procession to the Abbey. They will be followed by the eight bearers, who will be accompanied by two officers and two soldiers whose job will be to carry the bearers' bearskins once the coffin is hoisted on to their shoulders.

From this moment until the arrival of the cortege at Westminster Abbey 1 hour 47 minutes later, the Abbey's Tenor Bell will be tolled once a minute.

From Kensington Palace, the cortege will proceed down Palace Avenue to Kensington High Street and Queen's Gate, past the Albert Memorial and along South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park, where huge video screens have been erected for mourners. Police expect crowds to be 100-deep along parts of the route.

It will continue past Apsley House, pass under Wellington Arch to Constitution Hill and the Mall where, at its junction with Marlborough Road at 10.26am, it will be joined by 533 representatives of the princess's favourite charities.

Prince Charles and, possibly Princes William and Harry, will join the procession for the last mile to the Abbey, through Horseguards Parade, along Whitehall and through Parliament Square.

At 10.35am the Spencer family will arrive at the Abbey, followed five minutes later by peripheral members of the Royal Family and, at 10.50, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother. The cortege will arrive at the Great West Door at 10.55am.

After the service, the journey to Althorp Park will be riddled with landmark memories. Diana's coffin will be driven in a hearse past St James' Palace and Clarence House, from which she began her journey to her wedding - an ordeal which she later said made her feel like a "lamb to the slaughter".

The hearse will travel past Buckingham Palace - which she once described as "cold and lonely". When, on the balcony of the palace after her wedding, she kissed the Prince of Wales, the crowds cheered hysterically. Today they will be silent. The procession, which will include four police outriders, will travel at a sedate pace to Hyde Park Corner, passing close to Harrods, the department store owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi's father, in front of the Park Lane flat used by Dodi when he was in England and on along Cumberland Gate and Tyburn Way to Marble Arch, originally designed as the main entrance to Buckingham Palace.

As the procession passes Marble Arch, Dr Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, will be conducting a special service for the Jewish community at the western Marble Arch synagogue. He will be unable to attend the Abbey service because he has to observe his Sabbath, but he said Jews were as anxious as the rest of the world community to grieve and to celebrate Diana's life.

As Dr Sacks speaks, the cortege will travel down Oxford Street, London's main shopping thoroughfare - but today the shops will be closed and bustling pedestrians will be replaced by silent, still mourners.

Passing through Portman Street and Gloucester Place, the cortege starts to move out of central London, heading towards Lord's cricket ground, along Park Road and on to the A41 at Wellington Road. Crowds of Muslims are expected along Park Road, the site of the Central London Mosque, because of the Princess's close relationship with Islam, not least her friendship with Dodi Al Fayed. A funeral service was conducted for Dodi there last Sunday night.

It is poignant, too, that the coffin will pass the Humana Wellington Hospital, where her father died in 1992.

From here, the cortege will travel along Finchley Road, along Hendon Way, over the Brent Cross Flyover, on to the A406 North Circular Road to Staples Corner.

From here it moves on to the M1 at Junction 1. All traffic on the motorway will be slowed down by police while the Princess's body is carried north to Junction 15a, near Wootton, in Northamptonshire.

The final leg of the journey is along the A43 and past Upton Way along the A45 on the outskirts of Northampton. Crowds will gather here, too, as the procession passes the town football club's Sixfields Stadium and moves on along Bants Lane to its junction with Harlestone Road.

Finally, it will crawl along the A428 through Harlestone and on to the main gates of Althorp House. After a private ceremony at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Diana's coffin will be conveyed to an island at the centre of an ornamental lake in the grounds of Althorp Park, where it will be buried in the presence of the Spencer family, the Prince of Wales and Princes William and Harry.

Finally, surrounded by ancient oaks, Diana, Princess of Wales, will find the peace in death that eluded her for so long in life.

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