No hysteria, but lots of flowers, tears and flags flying at half mast

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE HYSTERICAL outpouring of grief never materialised, but there was enough evidence of mourning yesterday to show that, one year on, the Princess of Wales still occupies a special place in the nation's psyche.

All day long, people queued, some in tears, at Kensington Palace to lay flowers in her memory while less than a mile away, others gathered at the memorial to Diana and Dodi Fayed at Harrods.

Crathie Kirk at Balmoral where, only hours after their mother's death, the Princes William and Harry were taken to pray, was once again the place chosen by the Royal Family to remember Diana. The public were excluded for a 15-minute service when prayers were said for the Princess.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his wife, Cherie, arrived first at the small church, followed later by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother, Prince Edward, the Princess Royal, her husband, Captain Timothy Laurence, and her daughter, Zara Phillips.

At Althorp, the Spencer family seat in Northampstonshire, the public was also excluded from a small lakeside service a opposite the island on which the princess is buried. Instead, thousands laid flowers at the gates of the estate.

Earl Spencer, who shocked the Royal Family with his criticism of them from the pulpit at Westminster Abbey, joined other family members, including his sisters, Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale, for a quiet ceremony. For the past two months, up to 2,500 people a day have paid pounds 9.50 to visit her memorial.

Prayers were said at services at Westminster Abbey, while, at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Westminster, more than 1,000 people heard Monsignor George Stack speak of Diana's dignity and compassion. "It has surely been a surprise to us all that it seems it was her vulnerability which allowed people to empathise with her," he said.

At Buckingham Palace, the flag was flown at half-mast, in contrast to last year when none was raised as the Queen was not in residence - until a public outcry forced it aloft.

And there were prayers, too, in Paris, where hundreds of mourners, including many Britons, staged an all-night vigil above the Pont D'Alma underpass, where the Princess and Dodi died exactly a year earlier at 11.25pm British summertime. At the Statue of Liberty flame, visitors left flowers and wrote messages and poems in many languages.

But it was at Kensington Palace where, once again, most grief was displayed. About 100 people had maintained a candlelit vigil over night. By dawn, their numbers began to swell considerably. The mood outside Diana's old home was quiet, reflective, but, unlike last year, not so many people stood with tears running down their faces.

Ian Jackman, 34, a hotel manager and a devoted fan who had spoken to Diana over 100 times, flew back to Britain yesterday morning from Paris where he and three friends had spent the anniversary of her last evening with Dodi at the scene of the crash. "It was very emotional" he said.

Diana Millinship, 55, and her friend Jacqueline Bell, 53, had travelled from Ilkeston, near Derby, as they had not come last year. First they took flowers to Harrods, then to Kensington together with a verse written by a colleague at the upholstery factory where they work.

Unlike last year, the Royals were quick to show their appreciation. The Queen's spokeswoman said: "The Queen and the Royal Family, particularly the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry, would like to thank people for their messages and kind gestures of sympathy at this sad time."

Comments