Diana - The Last Resting Place: Clinton may attend Washington service

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The Independent Online
The global impact made by Diana, Princess of Wales, is reflected in the number of commemorative events that will take place tomorrow to coincide with her funeral in London.

In the United States, there was speculation that President Clinton would attend a memorial service at the national cathedral in Washington, starting soon after transmission of the funeral ends. The British ambassador, Sir John Kerr, will read a lesson, and proceedings will be relayed outside for a crowd that is expected, will be too big for the church. A service was held at the cathedral in Chicago yesterday, timed so that office workers could attend in their lunch hour.

Blanket television reporting over the past six days has led to the virtual exclusion of mainstream American and foreign stories, and coverage will culminate in live transmission of the funeral on all television networks today. Some will start coverage at midnight East Coast time; millions are expected to rise at 4am when live coverage of the procession begins.

Hundreds of people were still queuing yesterday at the British embassy in Washington and British consulates elsewhere in the United States to sign condolence books and lay flowers.

In New York, a memorial service for Diana will be held in the north meadow of Central Park at 2pm on Sunday 14 September. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said: "I do think that there was a special relationship between the Princess and the city of New York and it gives New York a chance to express that as well."

The service will be led by episcopal diocese of New York, Bishop Richard Grein, who said yesterday it would be "a modified version of an Anglican service". The turnout at the park for some previous events has been in the region of a million.

Closer to home, the British community in Paris was yesterday preparing to commemorate the death of Diana in the city where she was killed. A requiem mass was being held last night at the St George's Anglican church in the centre of Paris, conducted by the Ven Martin Draper, Archdeacon of France, who led the coffin containing the Princess out of the Pitie- Salpetriere hospital in the city on Sunday morning. A church spokeswoman said: "There is a huge amount of shock and grief among the community here.

This will be our tribute and will allow people to pay their respects."

W H Smith and Laura Ashley will close their Paris branches tomorrow during the funeral, and Marks & Spencer is respecting the two-minute silence.

An inter-denominational service of remembrance will be held in Dublin tomorrow at 11.15 am in St Patrick's Cathedral. The President, Mrs Mary Robinson, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, government ministers and MPs will attend. Today, the Irish flag will fly at half mast from all state buildings. The last British national honoured in this way was Lord Mountbatten after his assassination by the IRA in 1979.

The funeral will be covered live on Irish television. Books of condolences have been signed in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. At Dublin's Mansion House alone, 15,000 have signed, while many thousands also queued at the British Embassy.

In Germany, more than 5,000 people, including Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel on behalf of the government, have signed condolence books displayed at British consulates.

Six national television channels will be transmitting the procession and the service live. RTL, the biggest commercial station, has signed up Charles's German cousin, Prince Eduard of Anhalt, as studio guest. There are no plane tickets to be had from Germany to London.

In Italy, the Anglican church in Rome, All Saint's in Via del Babuino, is holding two commemorative services: an ecumenical service today at 5pm and a sung requiem Eucharist on Sunday morning, featuring the choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge.

There will be a sung mass, in Italian and English, at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore on Monday at noon. The church has strong British connections since it holds the relics of St Thomas Becket, and has performed royal commemorative services many times in the past. A further service is being organised by relative and friends of Italy's former royal family at the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, to be held on Wednesday or Thursday.

Thousands of people in Belgium are expected to attend special church services to mark Diana's funeral. Saint Georges Memorial Church in Ypres founded to honour the soldiers killed in Flanders in the First World War, will hold a special "thanksgiving for Diana's life" to replace the daily evensong.

More than 5,000 people including the European Commission President Jacques Santer meanwhile had signed condolence books at the British embassy in Brussels by yesterday evening. One Belgian woman asked embassy staff where she could donate 100 000 Belgian francs (pounds 2,000) of her savings to charities patronised by the princess.

In South Africa, the "phenomenal" response across the political, religious and racial spectrum will culminate in commemorative services across the country. In Johannesburg, 4,500 people have signed books of condolence at the British embassy, and were still queuing yesterday, well past their predicted closure time of 1pm.

In Moscow, the funeral has been overshadowed by city's 850th anniversary, but members of the British expatriate community attended a commemorative service at the Anglican church earlier in the week.

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