In a congregation that reflected all aspects of her life, the Queen Mother and Tom Cruise were brought together in grief. The Royal Family, and Diana's family, were there in full. Of the Princess's own family, the ninth Earl Spencer, Diana's younger brother Charles, who now lives near Cape Town, South Africa, had earlier followed the funeral cortege between the two young princes, and in the Abbey joined Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, her two sisters, and the Princess's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, who was wearing a prominent crucifix.
Present too were the family of Dodi Fayed, with whom she died. Dodi's father Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods, arrived with his wife Heine, followed by his ever-present spokesman, Michael Cole.
But the massed ranks of government ministers, MPs, officials and ambassadors present at previous funerals of the country's great and good were missing. Political representation was minimal. It was led by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his wife, Cherie Booth, with the deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and his wife, Pauline, and the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook. Tory leader William Hague and his fiancee, Ffion Jenkins, represented the Conservatives, Paddy Ashdown and his wife the Liberal Democrats. All surviving former Prime Ministers were present : John Major with his wife Norma, Baroness Thatcher and her husband Denis, Lord Callaghan and his daughter Baroness Jay, and Sir Edward Heath. Betty Boothroyd, speaker of the House of Commons, and Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor, represented Parliament.
Hillary Clinton, wife of the American president, accompanied by US Ambassador William Crowe, led the contingent from the USA, a place Diana held close to her heart and might have moved to.
Bernadette Chirac, wife of President Jacques Chirac of France, where Diana died last Sunday in a car crash, also attended. Suzanne Mubarak represented Egypt and Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were represented by his oldest sister, Princess Pilar de Borbon.
But it was perhaps the representatives from the world of show business that showed the funeral for the unique occasion it was. The arrival of Elton John, to sing his revised version of "Candle in the Wind", supported by his partner David Furnish, and accompanied by George Michael, showed how Diana had helped bring the Royal Family into the 20th century.
The singer Luciano Pavarotti, who had originally said he was too distressed to attend, came supported by two female companions.
Early arrivals at the Abbey included Hollywood stars Tom Cruise, his wife Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg.
Lord and Lady Attenborough, Sir David Frost and his wife Lady Carina Frost, Lord (Marmaduke) Hussey, the former chairman of the board of governors of the BBC, singer Sting, his wife Trudi Styler, and Sir Cliff Richard were also there.
Imran Khan arrived with his wife Jemima, one of Diana's closest friends who herself lost her father just a few weeks ago. They were accompanied by Sir James Goldsmith's widow Lady Annabel. Also present was another close friend, Rosa Monckton, with whom Diana had recently shared a holiday.
Demonstrating the diversity of her appeal, were Henry Kissinger, writer and broadcaster Clive James, Ruby Wax, who famously interviewed Diana's former sister-in-law Sarah Ferguson, Donatella Versace, Tom Conti, singers Diana Ross and Chris de Burgh and the businessman Richard Branson, as well as former EastEnders actress Anita Dobson.