Safety fear sparks plea to stop flowers for Diana

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The Independent Online
Mourning for Diana, Princess of Wales, showed no signs of diminishing yesterday as people continued to flock to the royal palaces and were urged to stop bringing flowers to the Althorp estate amid fears for safety in the narrow lanes.

Estate workers found even more flowers were left at the gates yesterday after Earl Spencer allowed himself to be pictured surrounded by a sea of flowers on the island where the princess is buried.

A spokeswoman at Althorp said no more flowers would be taken to the island where Diana was buried on Saturday. "It is turning into a problem," she said. "We are now concerned for public safety, both near the gates and in the surrounding lanes." She suggested people should give a donation to the Diana memorial fund instead, an idea backed by Northamptonshire police.

At Kensington Palace, thousands placed flowers and queued for up to three hours to sign the 42 books of condolence. The Mall has been closed since the day after Diana's death and cannot be reopened until the numbers visiting St James's and Buckingham Palaces drops significantly.

The committee which is examining suitable memorials for Diana is to consider the permanent closure of the Mall, which links Trafalgar Square with Buckingham Palace. Officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have been impressed by the fact that despite the closure of the road, extra traffic has not clogged alternative routes.

The "Diana" committee will meet as soon as Gordon Brown, who is to chair it, returns from devolution duty in Scotland. The department is anxious to press on with arrangements to create a permanent memorial, probably in Kensington Gardens. The task of removing the flowers will start at St James's Palace tomorrow morning to be followed by Kensington Gardens, where the pile is at some points 5ft deep with the bottom layer starting to compost at a temperature of up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

The department refuses to issue an estimate of the cost of the operation but with hugescreens, 2,000 people and 100 contractors and sub-contractors involved, the bill is likely to be tens of millions of pounds. It will be met by the Government's contingencies fund.

The mother of the princess yesterday added her voice to denials that there had been a rift between the Royal Family and the Spencers over the burial of her daughter. Frances Shand Kydd said: "There is no division, nor has there been, between their paternal and maternal relations.''

Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi also died in the car crash which killed Diana, made his first public appearance since the funeral at a football match between Fulham and Plymouth Argyle in London last night.

Mr Fayed, chairman of Fulham, walked out to the centre circle preceded by his spokesman Michael Cole.

They received a tumultuous standing ovation from the fans.

The Queen sent a message of condolence to the families of two women who were killed in a motorway crash yesterday. They were among agroup of women in their 50s who had set off from Nantwich, Cheshire, to lay flowers. Their 53-seater coach was involved in a crash near Cannock, Staffordshire.