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article imageEmotional tribute to Princess Diana on death anniversary

By dpa news     Sep 1, 2007 in Entertainment
London - A Service of Thanksgiving held in London Friday for Princess Diana was marked by emotional tributes to the achievements of her short life and a call to stop "using her memory to score points."
By Anna Tomforde
The one-hour-service, held in the Guards' Chapel at Wellington Barracks in central London, was attended by Queen Elizabeth II, other leading members of the royal family, politicians and pop stars.
Outside, hundred of fans and bystanders joined in singing the rousing hymns, transmitted by loudspeakers, and chosen for the service by Diana's sons, the princes William and Harry.
They included hymns played both at Diana's funeral, and at her wedding to Prince Charles in July, 1981.
In an emotional tribute, Prince Harry, 22, described Diana "as the best mother in the world" and said her death when he was just 12 had changed his life, and that of his elder brother William, forever.
"William and I can separate life into two parts. There were those years when we were blessed with the physical presence beside us of both our mother and father. And then there are the 10 years since our mother's death."
The solemn and accomplished service remained overshadowed, however, by a previous row over the participation of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the princes' stepmother, who pulled out of the service in the last minute following criticism of her presence.
Camilla, Diana's erstwhile rival who married Prince Charles in 2005, was reported to be spending the day walking in the Scottish Highlands.
In the immediate aftermath of the death of Diana, and her boyfriend, Dodi al Fayed, in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997, criticism of the queen's initial reluctance to return to London from Scotland to join the mass mourning shook the monarchy to its foundations.
Friday's service, with the participation of 30 members of the royal family, and relatives of Princess Diana, was seen as a sign that "lessons had been learnt" from the events of 1997, commentators said.
Back then, ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was also present at the service Friday, helped to defuse the growing public anger at the royals by advising the queen and naming Diana the "People's Princess."
Diana was 36 when she died, her sons were 12 and 15.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and his wife, Sarah, former conservative Prime Minister, John Major, rock star Elton John, singer Cliff Richard and celebrity photographer Mario Testino were among the 500 guests.
In his address to the congregation, Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, urged that a line should be drawn under what he described as the use of Diana's memory for "scoring points."
"Let it end here," he said.
However, an ICM opinion poll published Friday showed that 25 per cent of Britons still believe that Diana was "murdered," while 59 per cent said her death was an accident.
A separate poll published in the Daily Telegraph said respect for the royal family had fallen to 49 per cent, compared with 64 per cent previously.
Many people believed that the royal family's response to the death of Diana had "damaged" its reputation, and 48 per cent did not believe the royals had changed since.
By contrast, 82 per cent said Diana has a "remarkable ability to connect with people."
"Ten years on, it's still hard to believe that she's dead. I think it's because no-one can quite understand the reason behind it all. It's hard to move on until you know the truth," said Alison Wormall.
Britons and tourists wishing to remember Diana Friday laid flowers at Kensington Palace, her former London residence, where an unofficial open air service was held, and at Buckingham Palace.
London's main department store Harrods fell silent as shoppers and staff joined in a two-minute silence Friday to mark the death of Princess Diana, and Dodi, the son and heir of Harrods-owner Mohammed al Fayed.
Fayed, 78, who has repeatedly accused the royal family of being responsible for Diana's death, led the tribute standing by a bronze statue of Diana and Dodi he has placed in the basement of the landmark store.
"Ten years ago, a tragedy occurred in Paris," said two plaques outside Harrods main entrance, flanking a window display of large oval photographs of Diana and Dodi, in elaborate gold-painted frames, and surrounded by vases of lilies.
A visitors' book outside the store bore entries from fans and mourners from around the world, including Egypt, the US, Colombia, Poland, Italy and Greece.
In Paris, fans also paid tribute to the princess.
"She was just so beautiful. I always thought this flame was for Diana," American Lynn Jeffress said Friday at the monument above the tunnel beside the Seine River where she met her death on August 31, 1997.
Jeffress, 62, who lives in the French capital, was one of several dozen people who came to pay tribute to Diana at the flame on the Pont d'Alma, a replica of the flame borne aloft by the Statue of Liberty in New York.
Flowers, photos and other objects of adoration surround the flame, such as gifts from fans of "the people's princess" from around the world.
Canadian Jocelyn Heber left a flowering plant at the flame and said, "She was the princess of hearts. She did so much good."
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