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The Quarry Dead, Tabloids Pledge To End Hunt Diana’s Immortal Image Will Stand Guard Over The Privacy Of Her Mourning Sons

Tue., Sept. 9, 1997

The people’s flowers, heaped outside the Spencer family estate, were gathered up and scattered on Princess Diana’s island grave Monday, and Britain’s tabloids pledged to stay out of her sons’ private lives.

Diana’s brother Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer, thanked people around the world for flowers and letters that “have genuinely helped us to mourn her death.” He released photographs of the island carpeted in blooms.

“The knowledge that Diana’s life gave so many people so much can now be balanced by the hope that, in death, her legacy will be immortal,” Spencer said.

As the nation returned to work Monday on a perfect early autumn day, the crowds of mourners that lapped around the gates of royal palaces and Diana’s ancestral home abated but did not cease.

Reminders of grief were abundant: flowers and candles, newspaper headlines and everywhere, Diana’s expressive face - images of a woman incessantly photographed throughout her life.

The government began discussing a fitting public memorial for the “people’s princess.” And the Spencers rejected Buckingham Palace’s offer to consider restoring in death the honorary title “Her Royal Highness,” stripped in last year’s divorce.

In Paris, the bodyguard who was the sole survivor of the Aug. 31 crash that killed Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and their driver was reported to be conscious but not yet able to assist police.

Trevor Rees-Jones underwent surgery four days ago to reconstruct his badly injured face, his parents said Monday, adding that he would be unable to speak to police for “some time.”

French authorities are investigating what, if any, role paparazzi pursuing the princess’s car may have played in the Paris crash. On the day Diana died, Spencer said editors who had bought paparazzi photos of Diana through the years had “blood on their hands.”

“Spencer’s bitter attack on newspapers will force every editor and every journalist to reflect deeply on the way they conduct themselves,” The Sun, Britain’s top-selling newspaper, wrote Monday.

“The Sun, for its part, has no intention of carrying photographs which invade the privacy of Princes William and Harry,” said the tabloid, which has a circulation of 4 million.

Other tabloids joined in the commitment to ban intrusive photos from their pages and respect the privacy of William, 15, and Harry, 12. Even The Independent, a respected broadsheet, said it will never again carry photographs of the young princes in private situations.

“If we are not all sadder and wiser,” we ought to be, The Independent said in a front page editorial Monday. “The hunt became a blood sport. The quarry dead, let us find gentler pursuits.”

Spencer has directed his pointed words at the royal family, too, eulogizing his sister Saturday as someone who “needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.”

Hours later, Buckingham Palace raised the possibility of restoring to Diana the title “Her Royal Highness.”

The H.R.H. designation was bestowed on Diana when she and Charles married in 1981. It is held only by senior royals, and she lost it when she and Charles divorced in 1996. Officially, Diana relinquished the title voluntarily, though she made it clear afterward that she resented doing so.

A palace spokesman said Monday the Spencer family did not want the H.R.H. posthumously restored.

“Their very firm view was that the princess herself would not have wished for any change to the style and title by which she was known at the time of her death,” he said on customary condition of anonymity.

Outside Althorp Park, the Spencer family home where thousands of people had laid flowers on Saturday and Sunday, staff gathered up bouquets and carried them into the estate grounds, where Diana was buried privately on an island in an ornamental lake.

A note pinned to the gate thanked people and said the messages would be “collected and retained.”


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