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Length of Diana's funeral procession tripled

Mourners wait to sign condolence book In this story: 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.

Funeral route animation
video icon 288K/5 sec. QuickTime movie

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.

route map

Procession route

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 books.

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.

the parade grounds, Horse Gaurds

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.

barriers

"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 respect that."

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 Monday.

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 the public.

"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?

Prince William

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 the funeral.

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 air.

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 history.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 

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