Length of Diana's funeral procession tripled
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September 3, 1997
Web posted at: 9:05 p.m. EDT (0105 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) - The body of Princess Diana will be returned to
her home at Kensington Palace Friday night, a decision that
more than triples the length of Saturday's funeral procession
to Westminster Abbey to 3 1/2 miles (5.6 kilometers).
The casket, borne on a gun carriage, will leave Kensington
Palace at 10 a.m., rather than St. James's Palace where it
now lies. The procession from St. James's Palace would have
been about one mile. The funeral is scheduled to start at 11.
Following the funeral, the princess' casket will be taken in
a motorcade along a winding, 77-mile (123 kilometer) route to
the tiny village of Great Brington where she will be buried
in an ancestral vault near her family home.
The funeral and burial arrangements were announced Wednesday
as Britons continue to grieve in an unprecedented -- and
unanticipated -- show of raw emotion.
The princess was killed with her millionaire companion Dodi
Fayed and their driver early Sunday when their Mercedes limousine crashed at
high speed as they tried to elude paparazzi photographers
following them. Six photographers and a driver are being
investigated for manslaughter, and all deny responsibility
for her death.
Thousands continue to stand in line around the clock to sign
books of condolence at St. James's Palace. There were five
books originally, but now there are 43. Despite waits of up
to 12 hours, an estimated 750,000 people have signed the
Flowers, meanwhile, threaten to engulf Kensington Palace.
Giant TV screens to show funeral in Hyde Park
The route for the funeral motorcade and the change in the
procession route were revealed as London braced for the
millions expected to flood into the city Saturday to pay
their last respects to Diana.
To alleviate some of the congestion, officials announced that
two giant video screens would be erected in a vast open area
in Hyde Park, enabling perhaps 100,000 to watch the funeral
in Westminster Abbey.
The original procession route had been criticized as being
too short, but Buckingham Palace denies it changed the route
in response to the pressure.
"We've always tried to consider a way of lengthening the
route in such a way that more people would be able to see the
procession in safety," a spokesman said.
Prime Minister Tony Blair appealed to people to respect the
royal family's grief as they sought to comfort Diana's sons,
William and Harry.
"All our energies are now directed towards trying to make
this as tremendous a commemoration of Princess Diana as
possible, to make sure we involve as many people as
possible," Blair said.
Diana's brother views her body
Blair added that he wanted the funeral to be an event of
which Diana would be proud, adding: "I know those are very
strongly the feelings of the royal family ... who are trying
to cope with a tremendously difficult situation.
"They are trying to make all the practical arrangements ...
for the funeral as well, at the same time as comforting the
two boys. They share our grief very much and we should
Buckingham Palace said Prince Charles and sons Prince William
and Prince Harry would fly to London on Friday from their
Balmoral estate in Scotland and go to the Chapel Royal in St.
James's Palace where Diana's body has lain since early on
Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, arrived at St. James's Palace
to pay his respects. Visibly shaken, the earl covered his
face with his hand as he was driven in.
Relatives, close friends and staff members have viewed the
princess' body during the week, but it is not available to
"There is a constant, loving, prayerful presence in the
chapel," said one of the chaplains to Queen Elizabeth II.
Prince William to walk behind casket?
The Sun, a British tabloid, reported Wednesday that
15-year-old Prince William has insisted on walking behind his
mother's casket from Kensington Palace to the abbey, although
there has been no confirmation of the report.
Elton John, a close friend of Diana's, will attend the
service, but the Times of London reports that palace
officials are reluctant to allow the pop star to perform at
While the streets of London will be packed to overflowing on
Saturday morning, the rest of the country is expected to come
to a standstill.
Thousands of shops, banks, cinemas and theaters will be shut
and the nation will observe a minute's silence at the end of
the funeral service in Westminster Abbey.
The Civilian Aviation Authority said Wednesday that no
low-flying aircraft will be allowed over the procession,
Westminster Abbey or Great Brington Saturday, preventing
media photographers from following the proceedings from the
Only the Scottish Football Association has resisted, saying a
World Cup match against Belarus will be played at about the
same time Diana is being buried. The association has been
under tremendous pressure to reschedule the match.
The British Broadcasting Corp. said Wednesday its televised
coverage of the funeral will be seen in 187 countries in 44
languages -- the largest live broadcast in its 75-year
Reuters contributed to this report.
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