Britain's young princes view tributes to mother
Royals hurt by criticism over Diana
September 4, 1997
Web posted at: 6:50 p.m. EDT (2250 GMT)
BALMORAL, Scotland (CNN) -- The two young sons of the late
Princess Diana made an emotional public appearance Thursday,
stopping to view the cards, letters and flowers left in her
honor in front of the royal family's Balmoral estate.
Returning from a memorial service for their mother at a
nearby church, Prince William, 15, and Prince Harry, 12,
spent several minutes reading the messages left at an
impromptu shrine to Diana at the entrance of the estate where
the royals traditionally spend their summer vacations.
The princes, dressed in suits, were accompanied by their
father, Prince Charles, and their grandmother and
grandfather, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
At one point, Prince Harry held on to his father's hand as he
leaned down to read one of the letters.
In London, the queen's two younger sons, Prince Andrew and
Prince Edward, joined the throngs lining up to sign
condolence books at St. James's Palace. They mingled with
mourners before walking back to nearby Buckingham Palace.
Queen hurt by criticism
These were the first appearances in public by senior members
of the royal family since Sunday, shortly after they learned
that Princess Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris.
Their absence from public view had led to strong criticism
among the public and press about the family's perceived
indifference to the death of the former wife of Prince
But in a rare public statement, a spokesman for the royal
family said Thursday that the queen and the rest of the
royals had been hurt by such suggestions.
"The princess was a much loved national figure, but she was
also a mother whose sons miss her deeply. Prince William and
Prince Harry themselves want to be with their father and
their grandparents at this time in the quiet haven of
Balmoral," the queen's press secretary, Geoffrey Crawford,
Added Sandy Henney, Prince Charles' press secretary: "All I
can say is at a time when you lose a member of the family, I
think you want to be at home with the family. And that's
where the royal family are at the moment, at home at Balmoral
with each other.
"I think it's a very private thing, grief," Henney said. "I
hope that with what we said immediately after the accident
and what we're saying now, will actually explain to the
public that they, too, are sharing their grief."
Queen will address nation Friday
But in the midst of the criticism, the royal family has begun
to make changes in its approach to mourning Diana.
The queen has changed her travel plans, returning to London
on Friday from Balmoral 18 hours earlier than originally
planned. She will make a televised broadcast to the nation on
the evening before Princess Diana's Saturday funeral.
The family also will fly the British flag, or Union Jack, at
half-staff at Buckingham Palace during the funeral ceremony,
substituting it for the royal standard flown when the queen
is in residence, a spokesman for the palace said Thursday.
Under protocol, the royal standard, the queen's flag, is the
only flag that flies in front of the palace, and it cannot be
flown unless she is there. It is also never flown at
half-staff, because it represents the institution of the
But as the Union Jack flies at half-staff around the country
in honor of Diana, there has been mounting criticism of the
empty flag pole above Buckingham Palace, where thousands of
mourners have come to leave flowers and tributes.
"There is this massive flagpole and it is totally empty, and
the people don't understand why," said a woman standing in
front of Buckingham Palace. "They say because the queen's
not there, but what's that got to do with anything? Maybe
the queen should be there."
British newspaper headlines on Thursday captured the
sentiments of many royal subjects. "Has the House of Windsor
a heart?" asked the Daily Mail. "Show us you care," The
Express pleaded. And the Sun's headline blared: "Where is
our queen? Where is her flag?"
Charles, William and Harry are scheduled to travel to London
on Friday from Balmoral and go to the Chapel Royal at St.
James's Palace, where Diana's body has lain since early on
Monday. Her body will then be moved to Kensington Palace, her
home, where the funeral procession will begin Saturday
Reuters contributed to this report.
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