British Papers Press Queen for EmotionBy Robert Seely
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, September 4, 1997; 10:03 a.m. EDT
PARIS (AP) -- Love apparently blessed Princess Diana in her final hours of life. A Paris jeweler says he created $200,000 diamond ring that Dodi Fayed gave to Diana during dinner Saturday night at the Ritz Hotel, just hours before they both died.
Queen Elizabeth, pressed by British papers to make a show of grief, announced she will speak to the nation on Friday, the day before Diana's funeral.
``The queen has asked me to say that the royal family have been have been hurt by suggestions that they are indifferent to the country's sorrow at the tragic death of the Princess of Wales,'' spokesman Geoffrey Crawford told the BBC in a rare television appearance.
British papers lambasted the queen and the royal family today for failing to respond to the public outpouring of grief. ``Speak to us Ma'am,'' one headlined. ``Show us you care,'' said another.
The queen has remained with Prince Charles and her grandsons Prince William, 15, and Prince Harry, 12, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
``The princess was a much loved national figure, but she was also a mother whose sons miss her deeply. Prince William and Prince Harry themselves want to be with their father and grandparents at this time in the quiet haven of Balmoral,'' Crawford said.
``As their grandmother, the queen is helping the princes to come to terms with their loss, as they prepare themselves for the public ordeal of mourning their mother with the nation on Saturday.''
Buckingham Palace decided to more than triple the length of Saturday's funeral procession to allow as many people as possible to share in the massive public grieving. The procession will proceed through central London to Westminster Abbey along a 3 1/2-mile route.
As Britain mourned, photographers blamed for the accident that killed Diana, Fayed and a chauffeur sought to counter claims they were shoving their way to professional glory at the accident scene.
``I tried to help, just to see if they were still alive,'' said Romuald Rat of the Gamma agency, explaining on French television why he opened a door of the mangled car before police arrived.
Rat is one of seven people -- six photographers and a press motorcyclist -- placed under formal investigation by a French court Tuesday for manslaughter and failure to help the victims, an obligation under French law.
All seven could face up to five years in prison and fines.
The Paris jeweler quoted in The Sun newspaper today said he created an extraordinary diamond ring that Fayed gave to Diana over dinner Saturday.
``He told me how much he was in love with the princess and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her,'' jeweler Alberto Repossi was quoted as saying.
Fayed had asked him to create ``a ring of the like that had never been seen before,'' Repossi said.
The $205,400 ring was found in the wrecked car, according to The Sun.
Press Association, the British national news agency, said the ring was turned over to Diana's sisters when they went to Paris to recover the body Monday and it is now at Kensington Palace, Diana's London home.
Diana's brother-in-law, Prince Edward, today signed a book of condolence at St. James's Palace, where thousands of mourners have waited to pay their respects.
With the funeral still two days away, attention has focused on the paparazzi who have been accused not only of precipitating the accident with their frenzied pursuit of Diana but of hampering police access to the mangled car.
Rat and one other photographer have had their press cards and drivers licenses removed and are forbidden to work until the case is resolved. But after remaining silent for several days, the photographers are now speaking out.
``I saw the princess sitting on the floor, her back to me. I said in English to stay calm, that I was there, that help would arrive,'' Rat told France-2 television.
Rat's boss, Didier Contant, said earlier that his photographer had taken Diana's pulse.
Diana, Fayed and driver Henri Paul died early Sunday when their black Mercedes crashed at high speed in a tunnel along the Seine River. Paul, who blood tests indicated was legally drunk, reportedly had taunted photographers to try and keep up with his Mercedes.
Fayed's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, remained hospitalized with serious injuries today. His testimony is considered crucial, but press reports said it will be weeks before police can question him because of his severe injuries.
A police report, published by the Le Figaro newspaper, said photographers pushed back the first officer to arrive at the scene. It did not identify the photographers.
But Contant said of Rat: ``He has no photo of the accident.''
``None of the photos he took were taken before help arrived,'' he said.
In other developments:
--The acting mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, renamed a road in an upscale district ``Rua Diana Princesa de Gales,'' or ``Diana Princess of Wales Road.''
--Russia's leading diamond-producing company has named its latest find -- a giant 64.22 carat diamond -- after Diana.
--A New Jersey couple who hired Diana as a babysitter in London before she entered the royal spotlight have been invited to the funeral, WCBS radio in New York reported.
Mary Robertson, who lived in London in 1980, told The Associated Press she paid Diana $5 an hour at the time to babysit her 1-year-old son.
© Copyright 1997 The Associated Press