6th. September 1997:
Never was it so still in London. Planes were only allowed to fly over the city at an extreme height. Shops were shut. All sports fixtures were cancelled. The world cried over "England's Rose". The sun shone over London.
The death knell from the tower of Westminster Abbey rings for the first time. The funeral procession leaves Kensington Palace, Diana's final residence. From now on the bell rings every minute - until the arrival at Westminster Abbey.
The princess' coffin rests on a gun carriage from the year 1904 from the royal cavalry artillery. Six centimes have been hitched up in order to accompany her on her last journey through London. The blue-red-gold royal standard is wrapped over her coffin. Three white flower arrangements adorn it. The first is a small, round arrangement of small white roses. In the arrangement a letter from Harry. One can read the hand-written word "mum". In the middle lays a large white arrangement of lilies. The favourite flowers of the Princess. They come from her brother, Earl Spencer. Behind these white tulips with a gold ribbon. These are the last greeting from Diana's son William. People cry and scream "Diana, Diana,.." time and time over. Twelve soldiers of the Welsh Guard, the Princess of Wales' regiment, in red jackets and with black bearskin hats, flank the coffin. Overall between the masses of people on the roadside are standing security officers from the English Secret Service MI5.
The queen, her two sons Edward and Andrew, Princess Margaret, Fergie and her two daughters and a few ladies-in-waiting stand at the gate to Buckingham Palace. They wait for the funeral procession.
Diana's coffin passes the royal palace. The world watches the reaction of the queen: silently she bows once before her dead ex-daughter-in-law. The coffin continues on its way; and the queen returns to the palace.
The gun carriage reaches St. James' Palace. Charles' residence. Diana had previously lived here with him. Now waiting are Prince Charles, the two sons William and Harry, the queen's husband, Prince Philip. And Diana's 33-year old brother Earl Spencer. All wear black suits with black ties. Only Prince Charles' double-breasted suit is navy blue. The only person to cross himself on first seeing Diana's coffin is her brother. There are still one and a half kilometres to Westminster Abbey. It will be the toughest journey that Diana's sons have ever made. The five start to proceed silently behind the coffin. Only seldom do the young princes raise their gaze. Prince William appears shorter than he actually is. He walks with a stoop. The male royals are followed by 533 representatives of 106 charitable organisations which the princess had worked together with. Some of them have crutches, some are in wheelchairs. Many of them are wearing the sashes and decorations of their organisations. Time and time again one hears "Diana, Diana" calls. Yet again fly flowers under the hooves of the centimes. One sees cardboard placards displaying "Diana, we love you", "Good-bye Diana". The flags of all nations line the sides of the streets.
The queen leaves Buckingham Palace in a black Rolls-Royce. Then the thing happens that England has waited seven days for: the flag of the United Kingdom - the Union Jack is flow at half-mast. At this moment ten-thousand clap their approval. For days the resentment of the subjects against Her Majesty has grown. The people did not understand the silence kept by the queen up to the previous day. Again and again arrive the invited guests at the venerable coronation church, among whom Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Imran Khan, Jemima Goldsmith, Karl Lagerfeld, Sting, Danatella and Santo Versac, Chris de Burgh, George Michael, Cliff Richard, Tom Cruise, Stephen Spielberg, Tom Hanks. Germany is represented by the ambassador Gerhard von Moltke. As it is not an official state funeral the heads of state are missing. Wearing a black suit Dodi Al Fayed's father enters the church with his young Finnish second wife. Luciano Pavarotti is supported by two women. One of whom is his 23 year-old girlfriend Nicoletta. He was asked whether he wanted to sing to Diana's honour. But Pavarotti declined as he couldn't trust his emotions. His pain was so strong.
The 1900 mourners fill Westminster Abbey, filling all the seats. Ten minutes beforehand Queen Elizabeth II entered. After the singing of the national anthem æ°God Save the Queenæ± all eyes are fixed on the church portal. Eight Welsh Guards carry the oak coffin on their shoulders into the basilica. They set it down before the altar. Four large candles frame it.
The queen and her husband Philip lay down a small white bouquet. Prince Charles and his two sons step up. They too lay down a small arrangement. Prince Charles crosses himself afterwards. The funeral service begins.
Lady Diana's family arranged the order of events. This incorporated a mixture of traditional ceremony and a completely personal parting. The two sisters of the deceased began to speak.
The first, Lady Sarah, who quoted from a poem:
"Should I die and leave you for a time, do not be like the others, bitter, despondent. Those who stay long awake in silent fog and gush tears. Go back into life and smile for me. Strengthen your heart and your shaking hand, in order to do something that will comfort other hearts to your own. Finish my unfinished duties which were so important to me, and with this I will perhaps give you consolation."
Next spoke Lady Jane. She read the following verse:
"Time elapses too slowly for those who wait, too quickly for those who fear, it is too long for those who enjoy themselves, but for those who love time, time is eternal".
Next a passage from Verdi's Requiem was sung. Prime Minister Tony Blair read, obviously moved, from the 1st letter to the Corinthians, the 13th chapter, whereby he replaced the word used in the English Bible >charity< with the word >love<: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal".
A high-point of the funeral: Diana's close friend Elton John placed himself at the piano and sang his song "Candle in the Wind". In memory of Lady Diana he changed the text to "Goodbye England's Rose". As he sings Princes William and Harry also cry. As a matter of responsibility the BBC gave its camera crew the strict instructions not to focus on the grieving family members during the service. They kept to this.
Next Diana's brother Charles spoke. Time after time he struggled too with the tears. The young Earl wrote his text himself and had not laid it in front of the royal family beforehand. He wanted to prevent anything being struck from his text. From an extraordinary and very personal viewpoint he paid tribute to his dead sister. His speech however contained a hardly concealed critique of the English royal court. Diana was a person with a natural nobility, classless, and someone who proved in the last year, that one doesn't need a royal title in order to keep a special magic. And he promised to protect the two princes from the coldness of the palace, so that their souls would not simply be submerged in duty and tradition, but would be able to sing freely. The congregation broke into spontaneous applause - etiquette was disregarded. At this moment only the feeling of the individual counted. For the first time since the year 1065 when the originally Norman nave had been consecrated there is applause in the place of worship, Westminster Abbey. And outside on the streets of London, in Hyde Park, where hundreds of thousands follow the funeral service on giant cine-screens, the people celebrate like at a rock concert.
Archbishop George Carey speaks to the mourners. He praises Diana's involvement with people suffering from AIDS, victims of landmines and completely normal people. He is the only one at this point to also mention Diana's partner Dodi Al-Fayed, the dead driver and the seriously injured bodyguard.
14.00 hrs.: The service is over. The eight guards carry out the coffin. This is followed by a minute's silence. Diana begins her final journey. The soldiers place the coffin in a black hearse. 123 kilometres north of London, in Althorp, she is to be buried in the presence of her family at the Spencer family estate. The limousine drives slowly through London. Overall on the sides of the streets stand people who want to say goodbye to Diana. They throw flowers on the roof, on the bonnet, on the bumper. Sometimes the driver has to turn on the windscreen-wipers in order to be able to see the way ahead. The car joins the motorway. It is flanked by police on motorbikes. On the opposite side of the motorway the cars have stopped. The people get out and wave at Diana one last time. Diana should actually be laid to rest in the Spencer family grave in the village church of St. Mary the Virgin. The 400-soul village Great Brington has just one postoffice, one pub and one village stores. Everyone knows everyone else. In order to prevent the small village becoming a place of pilgrimage the Spencer family chose a small wooded island on the estate lake to be Diana's final resting place. The giant 240 hectare estate Althorp is protected by a two metre high russet stone wall. In this way Diana's sons William and Harry have the opportunity to visit their mother's grave.
Diana has returned home. The large wrought-iron gate of Althorp House closes behind her for a final time.
Diana is buried in complete silence. Only Prince Charles, the two sons, Diana's siblings, her mother, Diana's best friend and a clergyman are present. A few weeks beforehand Diana had ordered a black long-sleeve wrap-around dress from her clothes designer Catherine Walker. She wears it on this memorable day for the first time and for eternity. In her hands a rosary, which Diana had once received as a gift from Mother Theresa.