NPR logo U.K. Remembers Diana 10 Years After Her Death


U.K. Remembers Diana 10 Years After Her Death

Princess Diana's family solemnly marked the 10th anniversary of her death Friday at a service organized by her sons, while admirers tied scores of bouquets, poems and portraits to the gates of her former home.

"To us, just two loving children, she was quite simply the best mother in the world," Prince Harry, her younger son, said in a eulogy.

"When she was alive, we completely took for granted her unrivaled love of life, laughter, fun and folly," he continued. "She was our guardian, friend and protector. She never once allowed her unfaltering love to go unspoken or undemonstrated."

Harry and his brother, Prince William, were credited with organizing the midday Service of Thanksgiving at the Guards' Chapel near Buckingham Palace.

The royal family, which was caught by surprise a decade ago by a national tidal wave of grief, had refrained from any public remembrance of the anniversary of the princess' death.

But this year, William and Harry took the lead in organizing the memorial service, as well as a rock concert on Diana's birthday, July 1, that drew 70,000 paying fans.

Throughout the day Friday, snippets of her wedding and funeral were rebroadcast — and opinions of her failed marriage to Prince Charles were rehashed.

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Also dredged up were questions about how she came to die in a car crash in Paris with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed; and the Daily Telegraph published an essay that explained "why we were right to weep for Diana."

Prince Charles was blamed by many for the furor over an invitation to his current wife, Camilla.

But Camilla, who was blamed by Diana for breaking up her marriage, decided to stay home. That decision came quickly after the Daily Mail on Sunday published a commentary by Diana's friend, Rosa Monckton, saying the princess would have been "astonished" that Camilla was invited.

A few hundred people had gathered outside before the services — in contrast to the masses who lined the route of Diana's funeral procession to Westminster Abbey 10 years ago.

Princess Diana's most ardent admirers tied scores of bouquets, poems and pictures to the gates of Kensington Palace, her former home, but the display paled in comparison to the vast carpet of blossoms that accumulated in the days immediately after her death.

Eileen Neathey, 56, of London treasured the memory of a chance encounter with Diana at a hospital, where Neathey's mother was a patient.

"I had been up all night and was very upset, and when I bumped into Diana, I burst into tears," Neathey said outside Kensington Palace. "She put her arm around me and comforted me — that's the way she was."

At the memorial service, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were among the 500 people in the chapel. Prince Edward, Charles' younger brother, and his sister, Princess Anne, also were there, as were Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former prime ministers John Major and Tony Blair, and representatives of 110 charities Diana supported.

Sir Elton John attended but did not perform. His reworking of "Candle in the Wind" was a poignant moment for many at Diana's funeral.

Mohamed al Fayed, who accuses Prince Philip of masterminding a plot to kill Diana and Dodi Fayed, was not on the guest list. He observed his own two minutes of silence at Harrods, his department store, an hour before the memorial service. His daughter, Camilla al Fayed, attended the official service.

A prayer written for the memorial service by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, recalled "her vulnerability and her willingness to reach out to the excluded and forgotten."

From NPR reports and The Associated Press