Britain Plans Funeral Befitting A Princess Service Will Be Aired Live From Westminster Abbey
The funeral for Diana, Princess of Wales, will be on Saturday in Westminster Abbey, the crowning and burial place of English sovereigns for nearly 1,000 years, in a ceremony described by the royal household as “a unique funeral for a unique person.”
The body of the princess, who died early on Sunday after a car crash in Paris, will then be taken to the ancestral home of her family, the Spencers, in Althorp, Northamptonshire. She will be buried in a private ceremony in a country church containing the remains of 20 generations of Spencers, spanning 475 years.
Though the arrangements fall outside the strict tradition of royal funerals, a spokesman for Buckingham Palace emphasized the ritual will “contain the usual elements of a royal funeral and in particular elements to reflect the affection with which the princess was held.”
The funeral, to be attended by 2,000 invited guests, will be televised and has been scheduled for 11 a.m. (3 a.m. Pacific time) Saturday, the palace said. Major U.S. networks plan extensive live coverage.
Monday’s announcement about the funeral came after 24 hours of deliberation as the family of Queen Elizabeth sought to square its own traditions with the recognition that the princess enjoyed a public regard exceeding its own.
“If the monarchy is going to continue, it must be seen to be magnanimous in its treatment of the late Princess of Wales,” said Harold Brooks-Baker, an expert on royalty.
Asked about the delicate issue of whether the funeral would be a full state occasion, the palace spokesman said: “Status is irrelevant. We are taking into account the wishes of the family and the need to allow people to express publicly their grief and their affection for the princess.”
The White House said Monday that President Clinton will not attend. “Consultations are ongoing to determine the appropriate representation for the president and the people of the United States,” deputy White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said.