SEPT. 5, 1997
The Princes' Grief
Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer


LONDON (AP) In a display of courage that reduced a grieving nation to tears, Princess Diana's beloved young princes walked behind her coffin, Saturday, with a quiet dignity that would have made her proud.

Their faces solemn, their heads bowed, Prince William and Prince Harry kept their composure until Elton John sang a specially rewritten tribute to their mother, beginning "Goodbye, England's rose." There, in Westminster Abbey, with no cameras filming them, the tears came. "We are all chewed up with the sadness at the loss of a woman who was not even our mother," the prin- cesss only brother, Earl Spencer, told his nephews in a moving eulogy. "How great your suffering is, we cannot even imagine."

At the culmination of the most tragic week in their lives, the young princes made up their own minds to honor their mother by following her coffin past crowds standing 10 deep and a watching world. Their father, Prince Charles, had left it until the last minute for them to decide. When the gun carriage bearing her coffin neared Buckingham Palace, William and Harry moved in behind. They walked the last mile to Westminster Abbey with their father; their grandfather, Prince Philip; and Spencer, their uncle.

Atop the coffin were three wreaths, two from the young princes, the smallest bearing a note from Harry reading simply "Mummy." William, at 15 already a lanky 6-foot-1, kept his hands clasped in front; 12- year-old Harry looked up occasionally, but his eyes were aimed straight ahead. At the entrance to the abbey, Spencer put a guiding hand, first behind Harry, then William, before they walked down the aisle behind the coffin. Once inside, they could grieve out of reach of the cameras.

The two boys appeared on the verge of crying as the 2,000-strong congregation sang the first hymn, "I Vow to Thee, My Country." It was a favorite of Dianas from her school days, and William wanted it played, according to BBC televi- sion. But it was when Elton John sang his reworked version of "Candle in the Wind" that their tears began flowing. When John sang the words, "Your candle burned out long before your legend ever will" Harry buried his face in his hands and sobbed quietly. And William became tearful when he sang: "All our words cannot express the joy you brought us through the years."

Diana was grooming William to be a modern king who shared her compassion for the less fortunate. In his eulogy, Spencer pledged to his sister that her blood family would ensure both boys were not simply immersed in duty and tradition but can sing openly as you planned. We ... "will always respect and encourage them in their royal role," he said. "But we, like you, recognize the need for them to experience as many different aspects of life as pos- sible to arm them spiritually and emotionally for the years ahead." Spencer also pledged that the family would not allow the young princes to be hunted by the paparazzi as Diana was.

Listening to his uncle, William was visibly moved. After Diana's private burial at the Spencer family estate, Althorp Park, Charles and his sons departed and were believed to be going to Charles home, Highgrove, in Gloucestershire in western England.

Janet Haddington, founder of the National Association of Bereavement Services, warned that the boys face a very difficult time coming to terms with Diana's death. "The princes are going to be reminded of her every day of their lives because of her fame," she said. "I hope that we as a nation have the generosity to let her go because, without that, they wont be able to address their private grief."




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