'Palace gagged me after Diana's death'
by George Wright
Princess Diana's mother has launched an emotional attack on the royal family on the fifth anniversary of her
[Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd,
January 20, 1936 - June 3, 2004.]
In her first in-depth interview about the dark days that followed the tragedy, Frances Shand Kydd tells how her
feelings were ignored as Palace officials dictated how news of Diana's death should be handled.
She reveals how she was forced to grieve alone for one hour - unable to share the burden of her daughter's death
with relatives - while Buckingham Palace alerted world figures.
She says she was also angered about being barred from seeing her daughter's body and about not being consulted
over the arrangements for bringing Diana back to Britain.
Speaking on ITV's My Favourite Hymns, to be shown on Sunday, Mrs Shand Kydd says: "I wasn't allowed to tell
anyone for about an hour, during which time heads of state were told. That seemed to me very odd and insensitive
because I, her mother, couldn't tell anyone she was dead because of a rule book from somewhere else."
Mrs Shand Kydd claims she was not properly consulted during the funeral arrangements and says that, as a devout
Catholic, she was devastated not to have seen Diana's body.
"I was very surprised and rather hurt that I was not consulted about collecting her body or asked to go to Paris to do
so. That seemed very tough. I was the only surviving parent. It meant that I never saw her when she had
died and for a member of the Catholic Church you are encouraged to see dead people, especially your dear ones."
Death of Diana, Princess of Wales
"Diana, Princess of Wales" the best known and instantly recognisable woman of her age was dead and left the world
stunned at the shocking reality that suddenly she was gone! Within a day the Buckingham Palace website recorded
500,000 visitors logging in from the U.K. and abroad. The television broadcast of her funeral reached more people
than any single broadcast before. A record of 31.5 million people watched the service in the U.K.alone, 3 million
more than who watched the royal wedding but it was watched worldwide so the exact figure of viewing public
unknown,estimated to have been more than 2.5 billion! No single event in history was ever witnessed by so many
The song "Candle in the Wind" written and performed at the funeral by Elton John became the best selling single
record, 31.8 million copies sold world-wide, replacing the Bing Crosby classic "White Christmas" that had held the
position for 40 years! Elton John vowing only ever to perform the song live the once, a promise to date he has kept.
An album called "Tribute" and featuring songs dedicated to Diana's memory by various artists became the top
selling recording of all time! All television and commercial radio schedules were cancelled as everyone was kept up
to date with the latest news from Paris following the car crash that had instantly killed Dodi Fayed and the car's
driver Henri-Paul. Bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones ultimately being the only survivor of the smash. Initially there
being hope that Diana was not mortally injured, a hope dashed with the news of her being declared dead at 4am
Memorable footage of the wrecked Mercedes Benz being flashed on screens as the horror of the tragic event hit us
all. Prince Charles with Diana's sisters, Jane and Sarah flying to Paris to collect the body and then the image of the
coffin at R.A.F. Northolt draped by the Royal Standard being carried from the aircraft ,a B.A.e 146 of the "Queen's
Flight" to the waiting hearse. It all still seemed so unreal! Documentaries on Diana and interviews with people who
knew her being continuously televised and members of the public having their say altered all programme schedules
dramatically. Initially the "Monarch", her husband and her mother had not favoured Diana given a state funeral, no
longer considered a member of royalty. Prince Philip, even believing Diana to have become a liability to the royals,
was against the use of an aircraft of the Queens Flight being used to collect the body from France and on return to
the U.K. should be kept in a public mortuary decided upon by the Spencers until the day of the funeral! His eldest
son, with a lot more respect for Diana, overruled him in this and a royal aircraft was used and knowing how loved the
princess was insisted that she be honoured by a unique funeral for a unique person. Iit was one organised by him,
her brother and two sisters with special input from Princes William and Harry and Diana's casket kept in the royal
chapel at his London home, St..James Palace. There was anger, the press, paparazzi being blamed as the cause of
the crash, a claim endorsed by Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, and later drunk driving being blamed on Henri-Paul.
A sea of flowers began appearing at Diana's London home, Kensington, St. James and Buckingham palaces. An
estimated $45,000,000 spent on flowers making 10,000 tons of remembrance bouquets together with cards
honouring her memory. In the night a candle-lit vigil held for her, a multi-national gathering of prayers and respectful
silence broken by sounds of sobbing in the crowd. Millions of people in the U.K. and abroad experiencing
unexpected emotions yet no flag flying above "Buckingham Palace" half-mast as all other flags in London were
being flown, the flagstaff remaining bare as protocol and tradition dictates when the Monarch is absent. The royals
being at Balmoral in Scotland, the monarch criticised publicly for being cold remaining there and not grieving with
the people in the capital city.
To ease the unrest they were advised by the Prime Minister; at that time being Mr. Tony Blair, to return to London
and threatened by the Prince of Wales himself that if she didn't, he'd make a public apology for the Crown's callous
disregard to the emotional sensitivity of it's peoples. The monarch returning early, as it had been first thought to
arrive back the day before the funeral, and upon her return making a short public speech, her first unscheduled live
broadcast for 38 years appeasing the masses.
43 black leather - bound Condolence books filled with personal messages to the Princess by people who'd crowded
hours outside St. James Palace to script their personal final goodbyes. Shops, businesses and museums would be
closed on the day of the funeral. On the funeral day itself, an estimated 3 million people crowded London's streets,
the length of the route taken by the First World War gun carriage ( hardly suitable for Diana the Peace - maker ! )
drawn by six black horses and nine members of the "Kings Troop Royal House Artillery" and flanked by a bearer
party of "Welsh Guardsmen", carrying the coffin doubled to allow all a reasonable view. The bells of "Westminster
Abbey" tolling mournfully as the cortege set off at 9.08 am, September 6 1997. Diana having the previous week laid
in rest in the private chapel of St. James Palace, London home of the Prince of Wales, dressed in a long-sleeved
black coat dress never worn by her and designed by her friend Catherine Walker who had been the designer of
many of Diana's favourite outfits. There were several bracelets on her wrists and a couple of simple rings and in her
folded hands a rosary given to her by Mother Teresa and a photograph of the sons she adored and had always
carried with her as well as a photograph of her beloved father. Diana's body was returned to Kensington Palace on
the eve of the funeral day.
Passing Buckingham Palace it was later noted that Her Majesty, who bows to no-one, bowed her head in respect
and public emotions being with Princes William, aged 15 years, and Harry,
aged 13 years who together with their father, grandfather and uncle
bravely followed the gun carriage on foot the mile journey from
Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey. Behind the entourage, a
symbol of Diana's connection with the man in the street, 500 workers from
her favourite charities, many of them handicapped and yet determined to
show their personal respect to someone so special to them.
On the coffin itself a single wreath
of white roses from Harry with a
card attached reading "Mummy", a
spray of white tulips from William
and thirty-six white lilies from her
mother, brother and sisters, Diana's favourite flower, one for every year of Diana's life. As the coffin had passed the
crowds in the capital, someone throwing on it a single white carnation which remained there. The Queen, Prince
Philip and Prince Charles himself later adding their wreaths of white flowers at the base of the plinth on which the
coffin was placed in the abbey for the service.
The coffin carried in through the west door of the abbey by eight members of the red coated Welsh Guards and the
service beginning at 11 am. London stood still, a respectful silence shown, even in major train stations and airports.
Staff and passengers stood motionless for 3 minutes as a mark of personal respect to the "People's Princess", in
the wake of her death, a title given to her by the Prime Minister. Video screens measuring 355 sq. feet televising the
service to crowds of public mourners gathered in Hyde Park.
Inside the Abbey itself mourners comprised of the World's Royalty, with those from the Show-Biz world and people
who had known the princess or been involved with her in some manner. 1,900in total, including Queen Noor of
Jordan, officially representing the U.S.A. friend and President's wife, Hilary Clinton. From the operatic world which
Diana was so fond of and a great personal friend, Luciano Pavarotti. From the pop world, a singer whose music
Diana and Dodi loved, George Michael and from the World of Hollywood, movie stars,Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks
and amongst these mourners from the various walks of life in which Diana had mixed and made friends. Quietly
grieving was Hasnat Khan,who at the same time as receiving a birthday card from her had received his invitation to
her funeral. Hasnat always refusing to discuss his relationship with the princess, something earning him great
respect in people's eyes.
Diana's eldest sister Sarah read a selection of poetry, soprano Lynne Dawson sang part of Verdi's" Requiem
followed by her other sister Jane reading a sonnet and the P.M. Tony Blair after the singing of Psalm 23 reading
chapter 13 of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians. Elton John then performing " Candle in the Wind " and her
brother giving his eulogy. The service interspersed with clergy saying prayers ended with a final prayer given by the
Archbishop of Canterbury. After the service the coffin laid in a hearse for the journey 70 miles outside London to the
Spencer Estate in Althorp for burial. Crowds lined the entire way out of London, the hearse having to stop on the
motorway enroute to off load dozens of the flowers that had been thrown on to it by the thousands of mourners. The
last image seen being the hearse driving through the gates of Althorp House for her burial which was strictly private,
attended by family only with the exception of Paul Burrell, butler to "Diana, Princess of Wales."
The princess being buried on an island within the grounds, an island only
reachable by rowing boat and off limits to the general public, who instead
can view it from a distance remembering Diana in front of a specially built
temple created in her memory and bearing her name. On the tiny island itself
her exact burial site marked by a simple east-facing monument, a Grecian urn
and shaded by beech, oak and willow trees. After the funeral Earl Spencer was
called by Sir Robert Fellowes, the Monarch's private secretary and husband of
Diana's sister Jane, with the offer of awarding the princess with the official H.R.H.
title that was taken from her in life and had officially distanced her from the royal
family, an offer declined by "Earl Spencer" knowing his sister not having been a
person to stand on ceremony would wish to be remembered as she had become
known by everyone, "Diana, Princess of Wales".
In London Diana remembered by a fountain in Kensington Gardens and the seven mile long "Diana Memorial
Walkway" stretching from Westminster Abbey to Kensington Palace and marked by ninety plaques depicting an
English rose and costing $1.9 million. One winding its way in a figure of eight through four London parks, linking
three palaces, the others being Buckingham and St. James and both Clarence House and Spencer House, all
places of significance to Diana. Spencer House having been, until sold in the early 20th century, her blood families
London residence and situated at Green Park. Clarence House having been the London home of the Queen
Mother, where Diana left from for her wedding and where Prince Charles and his new wife live in the capital.
Buckingham Palace, the official Royal Residence of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, and St. James Palace the previous
London home of Charles following his separation and divorce from Diana, Diana keeping her official office there
after the divorce and where her body lay in it's private chapel before her funeral and where today Prince Wiliam has
an apartment. Kensington Palace being where apartments 8&9 in the west wing were Diana's home from her
marriage in 1981 until her death in 1997.