After Princess Diana died, her funeral became one of the most-watched television events ever.
As she left Kensington Palace to rest, two sons and her brother, Earl Spencer, carried her coffin adorned with lead. A million mourners lined up along its route in Kensington Square to pay their respects and participate in its procession.
Public Outpouring of Grief
Twenty-five years ago, Princess Diana’s death sent shockwaves through the country. Her funeral procession through London attracted 2.6 billion television viewers, while millions flocked to Kensington Palace as mourners lined its roads following her demise.
As with the rest of the nation, crowds were shocked and dismayed at Diana’s unexpected death. Although they took some time to process their feelings about it, they felt overcome by grief and outrage when her funeral procession began. For years, they had witnessed how the Royal Family mistreated Diana through film and TV representations; their mistreatment led them to intensely dislike Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles as people they held responsible.
At the time, there were reports that Charles Windsor had put up “ferocious resistance” against Diana’s funeral being held at any of their palaces. Charles wanted it to remain private but made his wishes known with great force.
Still, when the royal funeral finally occurred, it was met with overwhelming affection from all corners of society. Britain united like never before in sorrowful solidarity, demonstrating how far Britain had come as a society.
Grief occurred across a spectrum, from middle-aged women with tissues balled up in their sleeves to young, tattooed people who felt that Diana represented them all. There were people of various races, classes, and religions mourning Diana.
The Princess of Wales had been an iconic figure of British society for 17 years when she was murdered, symbolizing its wealth and power, thus making her death all the more tragic for those affected worldwide.
By theroyalShe became a global icon and captured people’s hearts worldwide with glamour and poise. She dared to fight for her rights even when threatened by the media or Royal families, thus inspiring so many around her.
The Funeral Procession
Funeral processions, which feature mourners driving alongside an individual’s body to a final resting place or crematory, are an essential and symbolic aspect of funeral ceremonies. Close family and friends can express their support as part of this important journey and use this ritual to remember a loved one who has passed on.
Funeral processions begin at the church or chapel hosting the service and move to either burial sites or crematoria for interment or cremation. A lead car driven by a funeral director usually follows behind, followed by a coffin and clergy. Flags may be placed on vehicles participating in the procession to indicate they belong; drivers may turn their headlights on to remain visible during this journey.
At funeral procession events, mourners should follow behind the funeral director in both personal vehicles and limousines carrying family and friends. Blocking or interfering with funeral procession vehicles is illegal; if you encounter one on the road, yielding to it and letting them pass is politeness.
Prince William and Harry were among millions who followed the funeral procession of their mother’s casket. Through London in 1997, walking for one mile behind it before joining their father, Prince of Wales; grandfather, Duke of Edinburgh; and Uncle Earl Spencer for an emotional half-hour experience that was perhaps “horrendous”.
Prince Harry revealed in the recently published memoir Spare: A Memoir that he opposed his younger brother and himself being asked to walk behind Diana’s casket as it felt too burdensome on their shoulders and felt it inappropriate that their bodies should bear such weight without an experienced support network available to help carry it over such a short timeframe.
The Duke of Sussex details in his book that while meeting at the Palace with Earl Spencer and others to plan his mother’s funeral procession, they asked for an alternative plan after learning of Princes Charles and Edward’s desire to walk behind their mother’s coffin during the funeral procession. Their uncle Earl Spencer objected strongly, calling this proposal barbarism and travesty and saying it would cause too much distress among the children attending the service.
The Funeral Service
Princess Diana died at 36 in a car crash in 1997 was witnessed by an estimated 2.5 billion people at her funeral service in 1997, one of the biggest funerals ever organized and broadcast live to over 150 countries around the globe.
The coffin left Kensington Palace aboard a horse-drawn gun carriage draped with the Union flag. Accompanied by three wreaths of white flowers from each of her sons, it then arrived at Westminster Abbey, escorted by eight pallbearers.
At 10:55 a.m., Charles Spencer will begin the funeral services by praying in St. Margaret’s Church nearby the abbey.
Princes William and Harry stand proudly in front of an audience with handwritten cards that say, “I Love You, Mom.”. Guests include Nelson Mandela, George Michael, and Tom Cruise, among many others.
During his performance, Elton John altered his 1973 hit song “Candle in the Wind,” while Westminster Abbey assistant organist Stephen Le Prevost presented various pieces by British composers.
Earl Spencer, an uncle to Princes William and Harry, delivered a eulogy written personally by himself for Diana. In it, he described her as an extraordinary, incomparable woman whom no one could replace.
Funeral procession departing Westminster Abbey behind in a black Daimler hearse owned by Leverton & Sons funeral directors from north London, led by officers from Special Escorts Group towards Marble Arch.
They then travel slowly up the M1 to Althorp House in Northamptonshire and gather on a small island within its ornamental lake, joined by their brother Charles and other members of Diana’s family, including her children.
The funeral procession has planned an approximately 70-mile trip, yet no exact time of its arrival at Althorp has been given. There, her coffin will be lowered into the ground before burial takes place in her family’s private burial plot, estimated to take at least two hours.
The Princess of Wales’s funeral was one of the greatest moments in British history, watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide. Her sons, ex-husband, and brother carried her through London’s streets before being laid to rest at her family estate.
She was surrounded by those she held dear, such as her mother and siblings, her former spouse and their children, close friends, a clergyman, and Catherine Walker’s favourite designer; Mother Teresa gave her a rosary as part of a gift; her coffin contained photos of both children and parents;
After her service at Westminster Abbey, her casket was transported to Althorp House in Northampton. It was interred on an island within the Oval of their Pleasure Garden to ensure she always had somewhere peaceful to rest. This choice ensured her grave would remain free of “ghouls,” offering peace and security to those who had come for the funeral service and burial.
Prince Charles and Harry paid their respects at the ceremony, and hundreds of representatives from charities Diana had worked with. A million people lined the streets to see her coffin reach its final resting place.
The coffin was covered with flowers and draped with the Union Flag, followed by guardsmen from the Queen’s Welsh Guards, and finished with three wreaths from her family members.
Before being carried in procession, her body was brought back to Kensington Palace. It remained at a chapel for several days, with members of her family, 43 royal family members, and thousands of people leaving floral tributes in its presence.
Once the service at Westminster Abbey had concluded, her coffin was transported by black hearse to Northamptonshire, where it would be interred at the Spencer family estate home. Although this journey took nearly four miles between the Palace and the Spencer family estate home, many remember it fondly as it brought many memorable moments.