Washington Says Goodbye to Diana
Story by Retha Hill
Photos by Reginald Pearman Jr. and Craig Cola
Saturday, September 6, 1997
ike the day itself, the mourners who queued outside the Washington National Cathedral Saturday to pay their final respects to Princess Diana were gentle in their grief. There were no outbursts of emotion, no cruel words for the royal family, no anger at the media who, even in this hour of worship, swarmed in with questions and whirring cameras.
No, the mourners in the District were polite. They shook the hands of members of the working press and explained their sorrow in sincere and thoughtful sentences. A few shed tears as did the sky just as the plaintive organ prelude called the faithful to the altar.
O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant Diana, and those who died with her, and grant them an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
They came in black, of course, and wide-brimmed hats, a few women in mourning veils, as is the tradition at such affairs. But they also came as they were, in jeans and shorts, in diapers and dress uniforms and frayed shirts. But all 2,170 wore a cloak of dignity and acted as they imagined she would act.
As the great wooden doors of the cathedral opened, the mourners walked in, small steps on inlaid marble. There was no pomp. The British ambassador, Sir John Olav Kerr, gave a reading from Lamentations. Although God causes grief, he said, "He will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willing afflict or grieve anyone." Speaking next, Bill Richardson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, read the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: "Where, O death, is your victory?"
Inside Washington National Cathedral.|
Katharine Graham, chairman of The Washington Post Co. executive committee, who befriended Diana, invited the parishioners to see the princess as she did--as a woman of low-key charm and overwhelming strength who could be vulnerable. She recalled Diana's 1994 visit on Martha's Vineyard, when Diana showed up to fill in for Graham's tennis set to the delight and shock of the other vacationers. "What should we call you?" they asked. "Call me Diana," the princess replied. "Everyone else in America does."
Katharine Graham speaks at the memorial service for Diana, princess of Wales. |
In his homily, the Rev. Nathan D. Baxter asked how to explain the unprecedented outpouring of grief over the death of Diana, a woman most knew only from television, newspaper and books.
How do we explain it?
Here are some of the voices of Washington. Let the people try.
© Copyright 1997 Digital Ink Company
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