Military pallbearers and a single wreath accompany body
Monday 01 September 1997
At one minute past seven, lit by the sunshine of an August evening, the coffin carrying the body of Diana, Princess of Wales, was removed from the aircraft's cargo hold, draped in a gold and maroon Royal Standard flag.
A sombre Prince Charles emerged from of the aircraft, accompanied by the Princess's sisters Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale.
The pallbearers, from the Royal Air Force's Queen's Fleet Colour Squadron, dressed in dark grey uniform and wearing black arm bands, slowly raised the coffin to shoulder height, turned and moved slowly away, the setting sun glinting on their immaculately polished shoes.
They slow marched the coffin the 117 steps to the hearse, followed by two escorts with ceremonial swords and a wreath bearer, carrying a single wreath from the Spencer family.
Prince Charles swept a hand through his hair as Diana's sisters stepped into a waiting Daimler to follow the hearse on its journey to an undisclosed mortuary.
Diana had been returned to a country she sometimes seemed to hate - she often said the only reason she stayed in Britain was to be near her two sons; she had planned to return to Kensington Palace yesterday morning, to be reunited with William and Harry after her holiday.
Stiff-backed, Prince Charles then spoke to Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, and to George Robertson, the Secretary of State for Defence. Among the waiting dignitaries were Lord Airlie, the Lord Chamberlain, head of the Queen's Household and the Base's chaplain, dressed in a striking scarlet robe - a single splash of colour among the black suits.
Prince Charles, looking serious but composed, had fiddled nervously with his cufflinks during the coffin's slow procession. He walked back to the waiting plane to return to Balmoral - Buckingham Palace said he was "going back to the boys".
Tony Blair and the other dignitaries waited until the plane was airborne before dispersing, leaving the tarmac once again to the wind and the setting sun. It had taken just 12 minutes for Diana to arrive home.
Their plane had touched down at RAF Northolt some 18 hours after her fatal accident in Paris yesterday morning.
Outside the air base, hundreds of people craned through wire mesh fences and laid bunches of flowers outside the main gates.
A crowd of about 200 photographers, camera crew members and journalists kept well back behind the crash barriers as they watched the solemn arrival of the princess's coffin.
- 1 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 3 Scottish referendum 'English question': Tory MPs call on David Cameron to create an English first minister in wake of No vote
- 4 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...