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Royal family denies row over Diana's funeral


September 8, 1997
Web posted at: 8:27 p.m. EDT (0027 GMT)

Latest developments:

LONDON (CNN) -- Buckingham Palace and Princess Diana's family denied a news report Monday that there was heated disagreement over the funeral arrangements for Diana.

A spokeswoman for the royal family called a report on a British television station "a ragbag of inaccuracies that can only cause further distress to two families recently bereaved."

Britain Channel Four news reported Monday that Queen Elizabeth II had at first insisted that Diana be given a private funeral and relented only after Prince Charles put up ferocious resistance.

The source for the story was said to be a senior official close to court circles.


According to the program, "It was made very clear to Prince Charles that Princess Diana's body was on no account to be brought to any of the royal palaces. The queen's desire was for her to be taken to a private mortuary and then to a private funeral.

"Charles had a blazing row with Sir Robert Fellowes (the queen's private secretary) in which Sir Robert was told to 'impale himself on his own flagstaff.'" Fellowes is married to the former Lady Jane Spencer, Diana's elder sister.

It was only when the prince was flying to Paris to pick up his ex-wife's body, according to the report, that he talked to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and they agreed that the body should be laid out at St. James's Palace and the funeral service should take place at Westminster Abbey.

Spencer also denies feud with royal family

But the program said the royal family ran into serious problems when Earl Spencer, Diana's brother, learned of the queen's initial wishes. Only after Blair's office intervened did the two sides start to talk to each other, according to the report.

The broadcast also said the royal family clashed with Spencer over who should walk behind the coffin.

But according to the palace spokesman on Monday, the royal family intended from the outset that Princess Diana would have a public funeral, and it was decided shortly after her death that the body would lie in the royal chapel.

It was announced on Thursday, two days before the funeral, that who would walk behind the coffin would be a last-minute decision. Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, walked behind the coffin with Spencer.

Spencer also denied Monday that there had been a clash with Buckingham Palace over funeral arrangements.


"To suggest that there were divisions between royal officials and me in the period after my sister's death is so far from the truth as to be laughable," Spencer told Press Association news.

"We were united in the aim of giving Diana a suitable funeral, and all arrangements up to and including the service were agreed amicably between the Lord Chamberlain's office and myself," he said.

Palace offers to restore Diana's title

In a related development, Buckingham Palace considered restoring to Diana the designation Her Royal Highness after the funeral, but her family turned the offer down.

A palace spokesman said officials spoke with Earl Spencer hours after he said in his eulogy that "she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic."


Diana lost the title when she and Prince Charles were divorced in what many Britons felt was a vindictive move by Buckingham Palace. Palace officials said at the time that she had voluntarily relinquished the title.

"Their (the Spencer family's) very firm view was that the princess herself would not have wished for any change to the style and title by which she was known at the time of her death," a palace spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.

"The Spencer family itself also did not wish for it to be changed."

A spokeswoman for Lord Spencer said: "The palace statement is correct and we have nothing to add."

Reuters contributed to this report.


The Death of Princess Diana

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