Monday, June 8, 2009
Tribute, funeral, and burial
Diana's funeral took place in Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997. The previous day, following a week long absence from the public eye, Queen Elizabeth II paid tribute to her former daughter-in-law in a live television broadcast. The funeral procession of Diana passing St. James' Park, London.
The sudden and unexpected death of a very popular royal figure brought statements from senior figures worldwide and many tributes by members of the public. In reaction to the death people left public offerings of flowers, candles, cards and personal messages. By 10 September, the pile of flowers outside Kensington Gardens was five feet deep in places and the bottom layer had started to compost. The same day, Fabio Piras, a Sardinian tourist, was given a one week prison sentence for having taken a teddy bear that a member of the public had put down among the flowers at St James's Palace as a tribute to Diana (this was later reduced to a £100 fine, a reduction that led to him being punched in the face by a member of the public when he left the court.) The next day, Maria Rigociova, a 54-year-old secondary school teacher, and Agnesa Sihelska, a 50 year old communications technician, were each given a 28 day jail sentence for having taken eleven teddy bears and a number of flowers from the pile outside St. James' Palace. This, too was later reduced to a fine (of £200 each) after they had spent two nights in jail.
Diana's funeral was attended by all members of the Royal Family. Her sons, Prince William and Prince Henry, walked in the funeral procession behind her casket, along with their father, Prince Charles, and grandfather, Prince Philip together with Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer,. During the service, Elton John sang a new version of "Candle In The Wind", his hit song initially dedicated to Marilyn Monroe. The title of the remake version was changed to "Candle in the Wind 1997" and the lyric to refer to Diana. The burial occurred privately, later the same day. The Prince of Wales, Diana's sons, her mother, siblings, a close friend, and a clergyman were present. Diana's body was clothed in a black long-sleeved dress designed by Catherine Walker, which she had chosen some weeks before. A set of rosary beads was placed in her hands, a gift she had received from Mother Teresa, who died the same week as Diana. Her grave is on an island within the grounds of Althorp Park, the Spencer family home.
The original plan was for Diana to be buried in the Spencer family vault at the local church in nearby Great Brington, but Earl Spencer said that he was concerned about public safety and security and the onslaught of visitors that might overwhelm Great Brington. He decided that he wanted his older sister to be buried where her grave could be easily cared for and visited in privacy by her sons and other relations.
The island is in an ornamental lake known as The Round Oval within Althorp Park's gardens. A path with thirty-six oak trees, marking each year of her life, leads to the Oval. Four black swans swim in the lake. In the water there are water lilies, which, in addition to white roses, were Diana's favourite flowers.
On the southern verge of the Round Oval sits the Summerhouse, previously in the gardens of Admiralty House, London, and now adapted to serve as a memorial to Diana. An ancient arboretum stands nearby, which contains trees planted by Prince William of Wales and Prince Henry of Wales, other members of her family, and Diana herself.