Charles' tribute to Queen Mother
LONDON, England -- Britain's Prince Charles has paid a moving tribute to his grandmother, the Queen Mother, who died on Saturday at the age of 101.
In a passionate address from his Highgrove home, the Prince of Wales lamented the loss of his "indomitable... darling grandmother", saying her death was a moment he had long dreaded.
The coffin of the much-loved royal, resting in a small stone chapel at Windsor Castle, is set to be moved to the Queen's Chapel at St. James's Palace on Tuesday. (Obituary)
On Friday the coffin will be transferred to Westminster Hall where she will lie in state -- only the second royal consort to be awarded the honour -- until her funeral a week on Tuesday.
Charles said the Queen Mother had an "utterly irresistible mischievousness of spirit... somehow I never thought (her death) would come".
The prince said: "She seemed gloriously unstoppable and ever since I was a child I adored her."
The prince's eyes filled with tears as he recalled how he used to laugh and laugh with the Queen Mother. "She was quite simply the most magical grandmother you could possibly have, and I was utterly devoted to her.
"Her departure has left an irreplaceable chasm in countless lives but, thank God, we are all the richer for the sheer joy and her presence and everything she stood for."
The prince, wearing a dark suit and black tie, was seated in the Orchard Room in an outbuilding of his Gloucestershire residence, with two framed photographs of the Queen Mother on a table behind him.
"I know what my darling grandmother meant to so many other people. She literally enriched their lives and she was the original life enhancer, whether publicly or privately, whoever she was with.
"And, in many ways, she had become an institution in her own right; a presence in the nation and in other realms and territories beyond these shores.
"At once indomitable, somehow timeless, able to span the generations; wise, loving, and an utterly irresistible mischievousness of spirit.
"An immensely strong character, combined with a unique natural grace, and an infectious optimism about life itself."
Artillery thundered 41-gun salutes in a dozen locations around the UK and in Gibraltar earlier on Monday to mourn the death of the Queen Mother.
In London's Hyde Park, a 2,000-strong crowd of onlookers watched as a horse artillery battery fired the first shot from its 13-pound guns at noon, followed -- here and at 11 other locations -- by one shot each minute.
The Queen and two of her family earlier ventured out together briefly from their private mourning to ride horses in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The Queen and Princess Anne, both wearing headscarves, rode out alongside each other, accompanied by a groom wearing a bowler hat, at a slow walk.
They joined the Earl of Wessex, who had set out on his own on a black-and-white dappled horse 10 minutes earlier.
At Windsor, hundreds more lined up to enter St. George's Chapel at the castle to sign the book of condolence there. (Hushed respect at Windsor)
Throughout Britain flags flew at half-staff as thousands of admirers of the enduringly popular former queen queued to sign 16 condolence books at royal palaces and homes around the country.
Bouquets of bright spring flowers, with fond messages attached, were placed at St. James's Palace and the adjacent Clarence House, the Queen Mother's London home since her husband's death in 1952 and the accession of her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
The 12 bells at St. Paul's Cathedral rang in a four-hour muffled peal for the first time since the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.
The State Bell in the Clock Tower of St Paul's rang for an hour on Sunday afternoon to mark the Queen Mother's passing. The bell is tolled only for the death of a member of the royal family, a serving dean of the cathedral or a senior national figure.
The Queen, who has lost her mother and her only sister, Princess Margaret, within seven weeks of each other, led her family in prayer Sunday evening at the foot of her mother's coffin.
The Queen Mother's coffin was carried to the chapel on Sunday from her house in Windsor Great Park, where she first lived as Duchess of York before her husband was unexpectedly thrust onto the throne in 1936 by the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII.
The public will be able to pay their respects to the Queen Mother after her coffin is moved to the Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament on Friday, before the Westminster Abbey funeral service at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 9.
After the service, the coffin will be driven to Windsor for interment in a side chapel at St. George's Chapel, within the precincts of Windsor Castle.
The Queen Mother will be laid to rest alongside her husband in the George VI Memorial Chapel at St. George's. At the same time, the ashes of Princess Margaret will be taken from the royal vault in St. George's and interred with her parents at the George VI chapel.
The royal family, preparing for a second funeral in as many months, will remain in mourning until April 19, after a memorial service for Princess Margaret. The queen's only sister died in February at age 71 after years of illness and was cremated after a private funeral at Windsor.
Royals and world leaders are expected to fly in to London for the funeral from around the globe. Parliament is to be recalled on Wednesday so that MPs and peers can pay their respects.
Tributes to the Queen Mother and the role she played in British life began pouring in from around the world soon after her death on Saturday. (Full story)
Dignitaries remember Queen Mother
March 30, 2002
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