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S P E C I A L S: Diana: A Remembrance
Diana: A Nation Mourns

Queen: Princess Diana was 'exceptional'

Queen Elizabeth II September 5, 1997
Web posted at: 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT)

LONDON (CNN) -- A solemn Queen Elizabeth II addressed grief-stricken Britons Friday about the death of Princess Diana, saying the world had lost an "exceptional and gifted human being" and that the royal family would forever miss her.

The five-minute speech reflected the country's outpouring of sorrow, as hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the streets of London before Saturday's funeral. Some planned to stay overnight to assure a good spot to see the funeral procession.

Queen's entire address on Diana's tragic death
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Queen Elizabeth comments on Princess Diana

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icon "No one who knew Diana will ever forget her..."
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"What I say to you now as your queen and as a grandmother, I say from my heart," the queen said from a balcony at Buckingham Palace. "First, I want to pay tribute to Diana myself."

"She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness."

"I admired her and respected her," said the queen, wearing a black dress and a pearl necklace.

The speech, broadcast live over television and radio at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT/1 p.m. EDT), marked the first time the royal family has spoken publicly about Diana's death since the car crash Sunday in Paris that killed her, her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul.

It was only the second time, apart from traditional Christmas broadcasts that are prerecorded, that the queen has addressed her country on radio or television. The first instance was in February 1991, after the Gulf War.

She thanked the millions who have expressed their sympathy over Diana's death, and she extended her condolences to "Diana's family and the families of those who died with her."

The queen also praised Diana for her devotion to her children, Princes William, 15, and Harry, nearly 13.

"We have all been trying to help William and Harry come to terms with the devastating loss that they and the rest of us have suffered," she said.

Voices from the street
Reaction to the queen's address

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"No one who knew Diana will ever forget her. Millions of others who never met her but felt they knew her will remember her," she said.

Hours earlier, the queen, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, greeted mourners outside Buckingham Palace and spoke to many in the crowd.

"I hope that tomorrow we can all -- wherever we are -- join in expressing our grief of Diana's loss and gratitude for her all too short life," she said.

"May those who died rest in peace. And may we, each and everyone of us, thank God for someone who made many, many people happy."


The Death of Princess Diana

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