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London Notebook: Mourning at Harrods And a Run on Flowers

Harrod's department store/AP
Mourners line up outside Harrod's department store, owned by Dodi Fayed's father. (AP)
From staff and wire reports
The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 2, 1997; Page A10

Harrods department store was bustling as usual yesterday. Live piano music tinkled at the entrance, tourists filled the distinctive green shopping bags with luxury goods, and the Food Hall was packed with customers waiting patiently for fresh pastry from the bakery.

But there was another crowd at London's most famous department store. The block-long Brompton Road side of the store was lined with mourners for Princess Diana's boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, the son of Harrods owner Mohamed Fayed.

Fayed was killed instantly in the crash that also killed Diana and their driver, Henri Paul, early Sunday in Paris. Fayed, 42, was interred late Sunday just outside London, following Muslim custom of burial on the day of death. The store was closed for the day, and its exterior, normally ablaze with 10,000 lights, was dark.

"This young man -- what's his name, Dodi? -- I don't feel enough has been said about him," said Holly Adenle of London. "He's been left in the background, so I feel I should show my respect."

Brookwood cemetary/AFP
Brookwood cemetery, where Dodi Fayed was buried. (AFP)
The line snaked past two condolence books, and a mountain of bouquets that were piled against a closed entrance to the store grew larger each minute. Most of the handwritten notes expressed appreciation for his brief romance with Diana:

"I only knew you recently because of your relationship with Princess Diana. But you made her so happy in the last few weeks of her life that we thank you for it."

Everything sells out at the newsstands in London these days. Diana, in life and death, is still the tabloids' best bet.

Within minutes of its arrival at the Marble Arch subway stop, the first edition of the Evening Standard was gone.

The second edition melted away too. The third edition was due out in 20 minutes, and not a moment too soon for Imad Abraham, 34, the newsstand manager, who said he couldn't remember such demand.

"It's all been Diana," he said, not missing a beat as customers stood in line. "The Daily Mail is the top seller, but I can't tell why, really. I haven't had time to read them myself. We've been too busy."

People were waiting for the first editions when Abraham came to work. They buy one, two, sometimes three. They don't say too much, Abraham said, shaking his head. "They are all too sad."

Flags throughout Britain are flying at half-staff in honor of Diana, but over Buckingham Palace, the flagpole is bare. Many of the thousands who have come to the palace to pay their respects to her have questioned why, and a few said they thought it was yet another example of the royal family's mistreatment of the princess.

But protocol dictates the empty flagpole. The queen is vacationing at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, and when the queen is not in residence, no flag flies over Buckingham Palace.

"Order for one rose," someone shouted out in the Mayfair Florist shop.

"Sold out," said Debbie Eaves as she frantically rolled cellophane and tissue around yet another bouquet of flowers.

She and her colleagues had been preparing bouquets nonstop since 8 a.m. as a stream of people stopped at the little shop in central London to buy flowers to lay at the gates of various palaces around town in Diana's memory.

"I thought it would be a little busy, but nothing like this," Eaves said. "It's like Valentine's Day."

By early afternoon, florists were so overwhelmed by the throngs of mourners that they had to close the shop to handle their regular delivery service. Customers waited out front for the store to reopen.

Eaves said she did not know if the store's supply would last the day. "If we sell out of flowers, we'll just have to close early," she said.

As Eaves finished one bouquet, co-worker Kelly Rudkin came back into the shop after being interviewed on television.

"That was awful," she said to the other workers in what at first sounded like one more attack on the press horde that has descended on London to cover the aftermath of Diana's death. "No lipstick on."

With heads bowed, delegates from more than 100 countries at an international conference seeking a global ban on land mines paid a one-minute tribute of silence to Princess Diana.

Opening the proceedings in Oslo, Norwegian Foreign Minister Bjorn Tore Godal said the death of Diana, who had become the world's most prominent campaigner against land mines, made a deep impression.

"Three weeks ago, Princess Diana visited the minefields in Bosnia. Once again, she demonstrated her deep concern for the millions of innocent victims and emphasized how important she felt it was to ban land mines," Godal said.

"We shall spare no efforts at this conference to achieve the goals she had set for herself."

A senior French lawmaker said yesterday that any global ban on antipersonnel land mines should be named the "Princess Diana Treaty" in recognition of her crusade against land mines.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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