Lady Di, the grave without peace: palace intrigues, the pain of her children and the theory of the empty coffin

Diana’s coffin weighing 320 kg was covered with lead. The eight British Guardsmen selected to carry it practiced in the past (Richard Wayman/Sigma via Getty Images)

Diana of Wales was killed in a car crash with Dodi al-Fayed, His partner, in Paris on 31 August 1997. They were fleeing a battalion of paparazzi in a wrecked Mercedes driven by Henri Paul, head of security at the Ritz Hotel, mixed with alcohol and psychoactive drugs. It was said that she was pregnant with Dodi. Whether it was true or not, the couple became the target of the press and royalty more than ever. Lady Di divorced Prince Charles in 1996 after she accused him of disrespecting her, which was an annoyance to her in-laws, and especially her former mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II. Diana’s discomfort at Windsor House did not end her life. Quite the contrary: dead, it aggravated them. his funeral, September 6 of the same yearWas involved in palace intrigues, part of a royalist soap opera.

Two days after the accident on the Alma bridge, the government Tony Blair and the House of Windsor They agreed that Diana – who had died at the age of 36 after the accident at the Piti Salpetriere hospital – would be solemnly buried, without fanfare, in a discreet mass ceremony at Westminster Abbey. The idea was to avoid a state funeral, Winston Churchill style, or a lavish royal ceremony. But an attempt to lower the funeral profile, publicized by the deceased’s former mother-in-law, was about to backfire. They didn’t take into account that Diana was still a symbol — disruptive, but a symbol nonetheless — of royalty, not just because she was William’s mother, heir to the crown. Diana was, above all, a beloved woman. Isabel II, that he had allowed his coffin with royal banners to be brought back from France, he had to backtrack as anonymous and spontaneous flowers flooded the entrance to Kensington Palace, where his former daughter-in-law lived after her divorce. His second concession was permission to expand the route of the funeral procession, but always with the idea of ​​a discreet duel.

Change in funeral strategy

In those days before the burial, royal uncertainty reigned. Elizabeth II was still holidaying at the Scottish castle of Balmoral, and no one claimed she was at the ceremony. It is not known whether this was true or not. Elton John, A close friend of the deceased will sing a hymn. It was also unclear whether the crown would allow Diana and Carlos to have children. William and Harry, ages 15 and 12, Will go with the coffin. The flag of Buckingham Palace was not flying at half mast but at full mast. The hyperbolic British newspaper “The Sun” seemed more accurate than ever: “Since Diana’s death, not a single word has escaped the royal lips,” it published. Not a single tear has been shed in public. It’s like nobody in the royal family has a soul.” Like a politician before a pre-election focus group, the royalty, who don’t need popular unanimity but also didn’t want to turn the people against them, next Within days he changed his strategy: he abandoned brief official statements and moved on to staging his grief.

Diana of Wales was killed along with her partner, Dodi al-Fayed, in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997 (AP)
Diana and Carlos during an event in the UK (Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Isabel II Summer eventually rose from the throne in Scotland and made a televised three-minute speech on 5 September defined diana “As an extraordinary human being whom I admire and respect for her energy, encouragement and most of all her dedication to her children.” She seemed genuinely impressed. He even remarked that she did not address her subjects in the capacity of a queen, but Grandmother, and that he did it from the heart. The advisers had asked him that, as an effect of the coup, a large window behind him would show the grieving crowd. So this was the matter. On the eve of the funeral, Buckingham plunged into mourning: the royal banner was replaced by the British flag, now at half mast. The official calculation was that Lady Di’s 100,000 fans would put her out of a job. they fall somewhat short: even more 2,000,000 people who camped in Hyde Park and St James’s Park, He attended the funeral in London on 6 September, while 31,000,000 people followed him on television. William and Harry, even though they were innocent and powerless, accompanied the coffin to Westminster, where 2,000 VIP guests waited, led, of course, by Elizabeth II.

sad harry

Prince Harry – now the Duke of Sussex – received news of his mother’s death at Balmoral. It was announced to him by his present father King Charles III, After that her grandmother Isabel asked that the television be removed from the palace. It was hard for Harry to believe what he was hearing. He fantasized for hours that his mother had staged an accident to avoid onlookers and that she would soon be in contact with him and his brother. She felt like crying but held back to keep the family tradition hierarchical and as per protocol. “When my mother was taken away from me at the age of 12, just before my 13th birthday, I didn’t want life,” she said. Oprah Winfrey In 2021, for the documentary series “El yo que no puedes ver” -. What I remember most about the funeral is the sound of hooves on the mall, the red brick road. At this point my brother and I were in shock. We showed one-tenth of the emotion shown by the strangers who surrounded us on the street. I used to see people crying around me and think: ‘This is my mother. You didn’t even know him.’ They could process death better than I could. Eventually, I stopped thinking about all that because it was too painful for me.

in an interview with the magazine newsweek He also explained that pre-adolescent anguish: “My mother had died and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, thousands of people watching me, while millions of people did it on television. I don’t think anybody Under no circumstances should a kid do that. I don’t think it’s happening right now.” And, in his memoir “Spare,” released in January of this year, he added details about the next stop: moving the coffin from London to the Althorp estate, where Diana was buried on a small island in the center of a lake. “My brother and I saw it on television. They said my mom probably had a picture of me and Willie with her hand on her chest Only two men who truly loved her. And, of course, the two of us who loved him the most. For eternity we will smile at him in the dark. And perhaps it was the image, when the flag was removed and the coffin lowered to the bottom of the pit, that overcame me. My body went into spasms, my chin dropped and I cried uncontrollably with my hands over my face.

Harry, William and current King Charles III during Diana’s funeral

william’s hair

Diana of Wales’s funeral was attended by 2,000 VIP guests Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, George Michael, Luciano Pavarotti, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. as were frontline politicians Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair or Nelson Mandela, and International Royals. Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace – who had buried her brother Gianni with Diana barely a month earlier – were representatives of the fashion world. Diana’s body was buried wearing a long black dress designed by Catherine Walker. Elton John sang “Candle in the Wind”, originally dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, with the lyrics changed. “Goodbye, Norma Jean, though I never knew you” became “Goodbye, Rose of England, perhaps you will grow in our hearts.” This version became the best-selling song of all time in England and topped the charts in the United States for fourteen weeks.

Diana’s coffinWhose weight was 320 kg, it was lead. The eight soldiers of the British Guards selected to carry it had practiced in the past. One of them, Philip Bartlett, said that the marble surface of the abbey made him feel like he was walking on an ice skating rink. Another, Nigel Enright, vowed he would never forget the devastating comments made on William and Harry and admitted that once he returned to his position, he, an adult who had not only lost a close family member Gave it, cried without stopping. William had done everything to keep himself like his brother. He admitted years later, “That funeral procession was the hardest thing that happened to me in my life, a long, sad and lonely journey.” He had to try to keep his balance. I was struggling to be Prince William and contribute to the ceremony, not to be Private William who just wanted to go into a room and cry alone.” BBC documentaryHe confessed that he used his hair as a “safety curtain”: as long as he kept his gaze fixed on the floor, no one could see his tears or his sad expression.

uncertain grave

After the ceremony, Diana’s coffin is carried out by Welsh Guards for the last time. the choir sings a piece written by the composer John Taverner quoting “Hamlet”: “Let the flights of angels sing to you for your rest.” William shook Harry’s hand firmly. A minute’s silence was observed across the country before the funeral procession began its journey to Althorp, the final stop. Then the hearse came out with thunderous applause and the 75-mile journey began with a shower of flowers. It was assumed that Diana would be buried in the family vault in a church, but then, for security reasons, an island was chosen on Althorp grounds, the house where she grew up and which belonged to her. wig for five centuries. He was buried, more precisely, on an island in the Round Oval lake, created in 1868. Her brother Charles Spencer said that the water and mud would “act as a brake on the interference of curious persons of insane and morbid disposition.” ,

Diana’s last photos before she got into the car of tragedy

But “Rest in Peace” never applied to Lady Di. In 2017, twenty years after her death, journalist and author Concha Calleja published the book “Diana, Requiem for a Lie”, in which she stated that the body of the deceased was not at her funeral or burial. “Diana’s funeral procession in London was more than 13 kilometers long and was led by her two sons, her ex-husband, Charles of England, and his brother, Charles Spencer. Two and a half million fans showed their respect in the streets and hundreds of millions of people around the world followed him on television. In my book I show that the coveted casket was empty. The children were small, however over the years they became aware of the truth. The rest of the family knew this; not your friends Elton John didn’t know he was singing into an empty coffin.”

dead mother in law

according to CallejaAfter investigating, they concluded that “Diana’s remains were transferred on 3 September to Great Breington, the town where the Spencers live. Her body has not been placed in the mausoleum that her brother had built on the family estate”. Diana was cremated and buried on a small artificial island at Althorp. St. Mary’s Crypt In which are contained twenty generations of Spencers. And yet, in “Spare”, Harry reveals that last year he took his wife, meghan markle, 25 years after her death, to learn of his mother’s grave at Althorp. “No journey to this place was easy, let alone this one. It was Meg’s first time. Finally, I’m bringing the girl of my dreams home to meet mom,” he wrote. And also: “I laid flowers on the grave. Meg gave me a moment and I talked to my mom in my heart. I told her I missed her; I asked for guidance and clarity. I felt Meg need a moment too: I walked around the hedge and paused to look at the pond for a while. When I came back, Meg was on her knees, her eyes closed, her palms resting on the stone.

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