Royal family denies row over Diana's funeral
September 8, 1997
Web posted at: 8:27 p.m. EDT (0027 GMT)
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
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
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
"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.
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 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
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
"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.
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
"The Spencer family itself also did not wish for it to be
A spokeswoman for Lord Spencer said: "The palace statement is
correct and we have nothing to add."
Reuters contributed to this report.