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Prince Charles Says Sons Are 'Coping Very Well' With Loss

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, September 20, 1997; Page A20

LONDON, Sept. 19—Prince Charles publicly praised his sons today for showing "enormous courage and the greatest possible dignity" after the death of their mother, Princess Diana, and, in his first appearance since the funeral of his former wife, he said that both he and the two young princes would "always feel that loss."

Addressing a group of business and community leaders during a long-scheduled visit to Manchester, the Prince of Wales spoke about the impact of Diana's death on the royal family and particularly on the two boys, Prince William, 15, and Prince Harry, 13.

"I think, as many of you know from experiences of family loss in your own lives, it is inevitably difficult to cope with grief at any time," he said. "But you may realize, it is even harder when the whole world is watching at the same time."

It is rare for the prince to speak publicly about the private lives of his sons, and his remarks were the latest sign of the royal family's efforts to project a more human face and to open up the monarchy to public view. "It is unusual, but then these are unusual times," a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said.

The prince's comments came at the end of a week that began with a remarkably frank statement issued by Queen Elizabeth II in which she attempted to debunk repeated reports of major, behind-the-scenes battles over the funeral service for Diana.

There has been considerable speculation that Charles and Prime Minister Tony Blair are in general agreement about the importance of modernizing the image of the royal family, and the queen's statement was seen as a sign that she does not want to appear to be the obstacle to at least some reforms.

Charles earlier issued a statement of thanks for the outpouring of condolences after Diana's death and for the tens of thousands of personal messages of goodwill sent to him and his two sons. But in his public remarks today, he went farther than before, as he repeatedly talked about how his sons are dealing with the death of their mother.

"They are coping very well," he said of William and Harry. "But obviously Diana's death has been an enormous loss as far as they are concerned, and I and they will always feel that loss."

Appearing composed, he told the Manchester audience, "I also want to say how particularly moved and enormously comforted my children and I were, and indeed still are, by the response to Diana's death. It has been really quite remarkable and indeed in many ways overwhelming."

Charles traveled to Manchester to help launch a campaign to raise millions of dollars for charitable organizations working with children and to promote the expansion of his Prince's Trust, which helps inner-city youth. He toured a Salvation Army center, the Manchester Royal Infirmary and Manchester Cathedral, where he was to view several books of condolences filled with messages from area residents.

Charles was greeted warmly by residents of Manchester and won applause and good wishes at all of his stops. Introducing the prince before the audience of community leaders, business executive Charles Allen thanked Charles for making the scheduled visit "at a time of despair and deep loss and terrible sadness."

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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