Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales - Order of Service

At
WESTMINSTER ABBEY
Saturday,  6 September 1997, 11.00 a.m.

The funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales reflected the life and times of the Princess, combining both traditional and modern elements in a service which lasted about one hour.

As the cortège made its way from Kensington Palace to the Abbey, the Tenor Bell rang every minute. Organ music before the service included pieces by Mendelssohn, Bach, Dvorak, Vaughan Williams and Elgar.

After the cortège entered the Abbey through the Great West Door, the congregation sang the National Anthem.

As the cortège moved to the Sacrarium, the Choir sang the Sentences:
I am the Resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
(St John 11: 25-26)

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.
(Job 19: 25-27)

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
(1 Timothy 6: 7; Job 1: 21)

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears unto our prayer; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, thou most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer)

I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labours.
(Revelations 14: 13)

The Princess's coffin was then placed on a catafalque; The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, and The Prince of Wales with Princes William and Harry, laid wreaths at the foot of the catafalque.

The congregation remained standing as the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr Wesley Carr, said The Bidding:
We are gathered here in Westminster Abbey to give thanks for the life of Diana, Princess of Wales; to commend her soul to almighty God, and to seek his comfort for all who mourn. We particularly pray for God's restoring peace and loving presence with her children, the Princes William and Harry, and for all her family.

In her life, Diana profoundly influenced this nation and the world. Although a princess, she was someone for whom, from afar, we dared to feel affection, and by whom we were all intrigued. She kept company with kings and queens, with princes and presidents, but we especially remember her humane concerns and how she met individuals and made them feel significant. In her death she commands the sympathy of millions.

Whatever our beliefs and faith, let us with thanksgiving remember her life and enjoyment of it; let us rededicate to God the work of those many charities that she supported; let us commit ourselves anew to caring for others; and let us offer to him and for his service our own mortality and vulnerability.

The congregation then sang the hymn:
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
the love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
that lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
the love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
the love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
we may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
and soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
and her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

The first reading was by the Princess's eldest sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale:
If I should die and leave you here awhile,
Be not like others, sore undone, who keep
Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep.
For my sake - turn again to life and smile,
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
Something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I, perchance, may therein comfort you.

After the reading, the BBC Singers, together with the soprano Lynne Dawson, sang extracts from Verdi's Requiem:
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna, in die illa
tremenda quando coeli movendi sunt, et terra:
dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ego et timeo, dum
discussio venerit, atque ventura ira. Dies illa,
dies irae, calamitatis et miseriae, dies magna et
amara valde. Requiem aeternam dona eis
Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

(Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death in that
dread day when the heavens and the earth shall
be shaken, and you will come to judge the
world by fire. I tremble in awe of the judgement
and the coming wrath. Day of wrath, day of
calamity and woe, great and exceeding bitter
day. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and
let perpetual light shine upon them.)

All then stood to sing the hymn:
The King of love my Shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
and he is mine for ever.
Where streams of living water flow
my ransomed soul he leadeth,
and where the verdant pastures grow
with food celestial feedeth.
Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
but yet in love he sought me,
and on his shoulder gently laid,
and home rejoicing brought me.
In death's dark vale I fear no ill
with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
thy rod and staff my comfort still,
thy cross before to guide me.
Thou spread'st a table in my sight;
thy unction grace bestoweth;
and O what transports of delight
from thy pure chalice floweth!
And so through all the length of days
thy goodness faileth never:
good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house for ever.

After this the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP, read from 1 Corinthians 13:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,
and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Following the reading, Elton John sang a special arrangement of his song Candle In The Wind:

Goodbye England's rose;
may you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed yourself
where lives were torn apart.
You called out to our country,
and you whispered to those in pain.
Now you belong to heaven,
and the stars spell out your name.

And it seems to me you lived your life
like a candle in the wind:
never fading with the sunset
when the rain set in.
And your footsteps will always fall here,
along England's greenest hills;
your candle's burned out long before
your legend ever will.

Loveliness we've lost;
these empty days without your smile.
This torch we'll always carry
for our nation's golden child.
And even though we try,
the truth brings us to tears;
all our words cannot express
the joy you brought us through the years.

Goodbye England's rose,
from a country lost without your soul,
who'll miss the wings of your compassion
more than you'll ever know.

Then followed The Tribute by the Princess's brother, The Earl Spencer:

I stand before you today the representative of a family in grief, in a country in mourning before a world in shock. We are all united not only in our desire to pay our respects to Diana but rather in our need to do so. For such was her extraordinary appeal that the tens of millions of people taking part in this service all over the world via television and radio who never actually met her, feel that they too lost someone close to them in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is a more remarkable tribute to Diana than I can ever hope to offer her today.

Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard-bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.

Today is our chance to say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life. We will all feel cheated always that you were taken from us so young and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now that you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are now without, and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult. We have all despaired at your loss over the past week and only the strength of the message you gave us through your years of giving has afforded us the strength to move forward.

There is a temptation to rush to canonise your memory; there is no need to do so. You stand tall enough as a human being of unique qualities not to need to be seen as a saint. Indeed, to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humour with a laugh that bent you double. Your joy for life transmitted wherever you took your smile and the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes. Your boundless energy which you could barely contain.

But your greatest gift was your intuition, and it was a gift you used wisely. This is what underpinned all your other wonderful attributes and if we look to analyse what it was about you that had such a wide appeal we find it in your instinctive feel for what was really important in all our lives. Without your God-given sensitivity we would be immersed in greater ignorance at the anguish of AIDS and HIV sufferers, the plight of the homeless, the isolation of lepers, the random destruction of landmines. Diana explained to me once that it was her innermost feelings of suffering that made it possible for her to connect with her constituency of the rejected. And here we come to another truth about her. For all the status, the glamour, the applause, Diana remained throughout a very insecure person at heart, almost childlike in her desire to do good for others so she could release herself from deep feelings of unworthiness of which her eating disorders were merely a symptom. The world sensed this part of her character and cherished her for her vulnerability whilst admiring her for her honesty.

The last time I saw Diana was on July 1, her birthday, in London, when typically she was not taking time to celebrate her special day with friends but was guest of honour at a special charity fund-raising evening. She sparkled of course, but I would rather cherish the days I spent with her in March when she came to visit me and my children in our home in South Africa. I am proud of the fact that apart from when she was on display meeting President Mandela we managed to contrive to stop the ever-present paparazzi from getting a single picture of her - that meant a lot to her.

These were days I will always treasure. It was as if we had been transported back to our childhood when we spent such an enormous amount of time together - the two youngest in the family. Fundamentally she had not changed at all from the big sister who mothered me as a baby, fought with me at school and endured those long train journeys between our parents' homes with me at weekends. It is a tribute to her levelheadedness and strength that despite the most bizarre-like life imaginable after her childhood, she remained intact, true to herself.

There is no doubt that she was looking for a new direction in her life at this time. She talked endlessly of getting away from England, mainly because of the treatment that she received at the hands of the newspapers. I don't think she ever understood why her genuinely good intentions were sneered at by the media, why there appeared to be a permanent quest on their behalf to bring her down. It is baffling.

My own and only explanation is that genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum. It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this - a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.

She would want us today to pledge ourselves to protecting her beloved boys William and Harry from a similar fate and I do this here, Diana, on your behalf. We will not allow them to suffer the anguish that used regularly to drive you to tearful despair.

And beyond that, on behalf of your mother and sisters, I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative way in which you were steering these two exceptional young men so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition but can sing openly as you planned.

We fully respect the heritage into which they have both been born and will always respect and encourage them in their royal role but we, like you, recognise the need for them to experience as many different aspects of life as possible to arm them spiritually and emotionally for the years ahead. I know you would have expected nothing less from us.

William and Harry, we all care desperately for you today. We are all chewed up with the sadness at the loss of a woman who was not even our mother. How great your suffering is, we cannot even imagine.

I would like to end by thanking God for the small mercies he has shown us at this dreadful time. For taking Diana at her most beautiful and radiant and when she had joy in her private life. Above all we give thanks for the life of a woman I am so proud to be able to call my sister, the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds.

The congregation then sang a hymn by St Francis of Assisi:

Make me a channel of your peace:
where there is hatred let me bring your love,
where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
and where there's doubt, true faith in you:

O Master grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love with all my soul!

Make me a channel of your peace:
where there's despair in life let me bring hope,
where there is darkness, only light,
and where there's sadness, ever joy:

Make me a channel of your peace:
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
in giving of ourselves that we receive,
and in dying that we're born to eternal life.

Make me a channel of your peace:
where there is hatred let me bring your love,
where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
and where there's doubt, true faith in you.

Prayers were then led by The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr George Carey, beginning with the following prayer for Diana, Princess of Wales:

We give thanks to God for Diana, Princess of Wales; for her sense of joy and for the way she gave so much to so many people.

Lord, we thank you for Diana, whose life touched us all and for all those memories of her that we treasure. We give thanks for those qualities and strengths that endeared her to us; for her vulnerability; for her radiant and vibrant personality; for her ability to communicate warmth and compassion; for her ringing laugh; and above all for her readiness to identify with those less fortunate in our nation and the world.

Lord of the loving: hear our prayer.

We pray for those most closely affected by her death: for Prince William and Prince Harry who mourn the passing of their dearly loved mother; for her family, especially for her mother, her brother and her sisters.

Lord, we thank you for the precious gift of family life, for all human relationships and for the strength we draw from one another. Have compassion on those for whom this parting brings particular pain and the deepest sense of loss. Casting their cares on you, may they know the gentleness of your presence and the consolation of your love.

Lord of the bereaved: hear our prayer.

There then followed prayers for the Princess's family; for the Royal family, for all in mourning and for the Princess's life and work:

The Princess will be especially missed by the many charities with which she identifed herself. We recall those precious images: the affectionate cuddle of children in hospital; that touch of the young man dying of AIDS; her compassion for those maimed through the evil of land mines - and many more.

Lord, we pray for all who are weak, poor and powerless in this country and throughout the world; the sick, among them Trevor Rees-Jones [the injured bodyguard]; the maimed and all whose lives are damaged. We thank you for the way that Diana became a beacon of hope and a source of strength for so many. We commend to you all those charities that she supported. Strengthen the resolve of those who work for them to continue the good work begun with her.

Lord of the suffering: hear our prayer.

The prayers concluded with the offering of a prayer for the congregation. The choristers then sang An Air From County Derry:

I would be true, for there are those that trust me.
I would be pure, for there are those that care.
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer.
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.
I would be friend of all, the foe, the friendless.
I would be giving, and forget the gift,
I would be humble, for I know my weakness,
I would look up, laugh, love and live.

The Archbishop led the recitation of The Lord's Prayer. After The Lord's Prayer, The Archbishop said The Blessing.

The congregation then sang the great Welsh hymn Cwm Rhondda:

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand:
bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore.

Open now the crystal fountain
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fiery cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through:
strong deliverer,
be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death, and hell's destruction,
land me safe on Canaan's side:
songs and praises
I will ever give to thee.

Dean of Westminster said The Commendation:

Let us commend our sister Diana to the mercy of God, our Maker and Redeemer.

Diana, our companion in faith and sister in Christ, we entrust you to God. Go forth from this world in the love of the Father, who created you; In the mercy of Jesus Christ, who died for you; In the power of the Holy Spirit, who strengthens you. At one with all the faithful, living and departed, may you rest in peace and rise in glory, where grief and misery are banished and light and joy evermore abide.

Amen.

The congregation remained standing as the cortège left the Abbey, while the choir sang extracts from Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Orthodox Funeral Service, set to music by John Tavener:

Alleluia. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Remember me O Lord, when you come into your kingdom.
Give rest O Lord to your handmaid, who has fallen asleep.
The choir of saints have found the well-spring of life, and door of paradise.
Life: a shadow and a dream.
Weeping at the grave creates the song:
Alleluia. Come, enjoy rewards and crowns I have prepared for you.

At the west end of the Abbey, shortly after midday, the cortège halted for a one minute silence, observed by the nation, before leaving the Abbey for the journey to Althorp.

*Source:

The Official Website of the British Royal Family - Diana Princess of Wales

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Click here for Prime Minister Tony Blair's Statement on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales