Diana, Princess of Wales





Saturday 6 September 1997, 11.00 a.m.

The funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales reflected the life and times of the Princess, combining both traditional and modern elements in a service which lasted about one hour.

As the cortège made its way from Kensington Palace to the Abbey, the Tenor Bell rang every minute. Organ music before the service included pieces by Mendelssohn, Bach, Dvorak, Vaughan Williams and Elgar.

After the cortège entered the Abbey through the Great West Door, the congregation sang the National Anthem.

The congregation remained standing as the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr Wesley Carr, said The Bidding, before singing the hymn I vow to thee, my country.

The first Reading was by the Princess's eldest sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale:

If I should die and leave you here awhile,
Be not like others, sore undone, who keep
Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.
For my sake - turn again to life and smile,
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
Something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I, perchance, may therein comfort you.

After the reading, The BBC Singers, together with the soprano Lynne Dawson, sang extracts from Verdi's Requiem.

This was followed by the second Reading, by the Princess's elder sister, Lady Jane Fellowes:

Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.

All then stood to sing the hymn The King of love my shepherd is. After this the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP read from 1 Corinthians 13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Following this reading, Elton John sang a special arrangement of his song Candle In The Wind:

Goodbye England's rose;
may you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed itself
where lives were torn apart.
You called out to our country,
and you whispered to those in pain.
Now you belong to heaven,
and the stars spell out your name.

And it seems to me you lived your life
like a candle in the wind:
never fading with the sunset
when the rain set in.
And your footsteps will always fall here,
along England's greenest hills;
your candle's burned out long before
your legend ever will.

Loveliness we've lost;
these empty days without your smile.
This torch we'll always carry
for our nation's golden child.
And even though we try,
the truth brings us to tears;
all our words cannot express
the joy you brought us through the years.

Goodbye England's rose,
from a country lost without your soul,
who'll miss the wings of your compassion
more than you'll ever know.

The congregation remained seated for The Tribute by the Princess's brother, The Earl Spencer, before singing the hymn Make me a channel of your peace by St Francis of Assisi.

Prayers were then led by The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr George Carey, beginning with the following prayer for Diana, Princess of Wales:

We give thanks to God for Diana, Princess of Wales; for her sense of joy and for the way she gave so much to so many people.

Lord, we thank you for Diana, whose life touched us all and for all those memories of her that we treasure. We give thanks for those qualities and strengths that endeared her to us; for her vulnerability; for her radiant and vibrant personality; for her ability to communicate warmth and compassion; for her ringing laugh; and above all for her readiness to identify with those less fortunate in our nation and the world.

Lord of the loving: hear our prayer.

There then followed prayers for the Princess's family; for the Royal family, for all in mourning and for the Princess's life and work:

The Princess will be especially missed by the many charities with which she identifed herself. We recall those precious images: the affectionate cuddle of children in hospital; that touch of the young man dying of AIDS; her compassion for those maimed through the evil of land mines - and many more.

Lord, we pray for all who are weak, poor and powerless in this country and throughout the world; the sick, among them Trevor Rees-Jones; the maimed and all whose lives are damaged. We thank you for the way that Diana became a beacon of hope and a source of strength for so many. We commend to you all those charities that she supported. Strengthen the resolve of those who work for them to continue the good work begun with her.

Lord of the suffering: hear our prayer.

The prayers concluded with the offering of a prayer for the congregation, after which the choristers sang An Air From County Derry before The Archbishop led the recitation of The Lord's Prayer. After The Lord's Prayer, The Archbishop said The Blessing.

The congregation then sang the great Welsh hymn Guide me, O thou great Redeemer following which the Dean of Westminster said The Commendation:

Let us commend our sister Diana to the mercy of God, our Maker and Redeemer.

Diana, our companion in faith and sister in Christ, we entrust you to God. Go forth from this world in the love of the Father, who created you; In the mercy of Jesus Christ, who died for you; In the power of the Holy Spirit, who strengthens you. At one with all the faithful, living and departed, may you rest in peace and rise in glory, where grief and misery are banished and light and joy evermore abide. Amen.

The congregation remained standing as the cortège left the Abbey, while the choir sang extracts from Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Orthodox Funeral Service, set to music by John Taverner:

Alleluia. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Remember me O Lord, when you come into your kingdom.
Give rest O Lord to your handmaid, who has fallen asleep.
The choir of saints have found the well-spring of life, and door of paradise.
Life: a shadow and a dream.
Weeping at the grave creates the song:
Alleluia. Come, enjoy rewards and crowns I have prepared for you.

At the west end of the Abbey, shortly after midday, the cortège halted for a one minute silence, observed by the nation, before leaving the Abbey for the journey to Althorp.

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