Elizabeth Taylor, sobbing and shielded by the umbrellas of security guards, made an emotional 15-minute visit to Richard Burton's grave here before dawn today.

Sunday, after walking to within 100 feet of the flower-strewn tomb in Celigny's tiny cemetery, she had turned back because photographers refused to leave.

She reappeared this morning at 6, shielded from photographers by multicolored umbrellas held by four security escorts.

At one point, she knelt down in front of the grave and put her head in her hands. Then she made her way unsteadily on high heels down the rough stony path from the cemetery to a silver Mercedes limousine in which she had arrived.

The actress, Burton's partner in two stormy and highly publicized marriages, walked arm-in-arm with a young woman who appealed to the waiting press for "decency, decency, let her be alone in peace." The woman accompanying Taylor was variously identified as Liza Todd, the actress' daughter by marriage to the late producer Mike Todd, or as Maria Burton, Taylor and Burton's adopted daughter.

Taylor wore dark glasses, a jacket and slacks. The young woman with her said Taylor was "too distressed" to meet with reporters.

"Although she was hidden by the umbrellas, we could clearly hear her weeping," said Alain Morvan, one of six photographers at the grave. Some had camped out at the cemetery since Burton's funeral last Thursday in anticipation of her visit.

When Taylor and her party walked back to the limousine, the escorts scooped up dirt and rock and threw it at the press, several witnesses said. One British reporter said he was hit.

A German photographer showed a broken umbrella with which he said he was hit on the back by one of the men accompanying Taylor.

The Welsh-born Burton died of a brain hemorrhage Aug. 5 at the age of 58. Taylor did not attend the funeral, to avoid creating any difficulty for Burton's widow, Sally Hay, who had been married to him for 13 months.

Taylor, 52, arrived in Switzerland Sunday on a private jet from London and, accompanied by an aide, went directly to the village's new cemetery. She searched briefly for Burton's grave, then, apparently realizing her mistake, she walked toward the village's old cemetery about 250 yards away, where Burton was buried.

Before she could reach Burton's gravesite, a host of press photographers descended on her and an argument ensued.

Taylor's escorts asked the photographers to allow her five minutes alone at the grave with a promise that she would pose for pictures later. The photographers refused and Taylor left to return today.

There were unconfirmed reports that she went to her chalet in Gstaad, the Bernese Oberland resort about a two-hour drive from Geneva.

In the village, someone had removed the identifying sign in front of Burton's villa that read Pays de Galles -- French for Wales -- but curious out-of-towners parked their cars near the driveway and took pictures of the actor's villa.

In London, Burton's 36-year-old widow told the British domestic news agency her husband died "painlessly and with dignity."

She said in a statement: "Although my life with Richard was brief it was of unmatchable quality."

"I have lost my husband, a great and massive character, a brilliant and loving man," her statement said. "His love was the written word. I will remember him with his books, his poetry and his writing . . . He spent his last few days happily with me and the [works of poet] William Blake."

On Sunday, Burton's niece, Sally Owen, said Taylor planned to visit Burton's family in Pontrhydfen, South Wales -- his home town -- later this week.

One of Burton's brothers, Peter Jenkins, said last week that Taylor had wanted to attend a memorial service in the Welsh village last Saturday but agreed with the family that the press attention could be difficult for his brother's widow.