Poignant tribute to the ‘best mother in the world’

PRINCESS DIANA’S family solemnly marked the 10th anniversary of her death yesterday, with her younger son eulogising her as “the best mother in the world”.

The Bishop of London used his sermon at a memorial service to call for an end to the sniping between Diana’s fans and detractors, and a priest who has led an annual remembrance said it may now be time to let go.

“To lose a parent so suddenly at such a young age, as others have experienced, is indescribably shocking and sad,” Prince Harry said at the memorial service at the Guards Chapel near Buckingham Palace.

“It was an event which changed our lives forever, as it must have done for everyone who lost someone that night,” said Harry, who was 12 when Diana died.

“But what is far more important to us now and into the future is that we remember our mother as she would wish to be remembered, as she was: fun-loving, generous, down to earth and entirely genuine,” he said.

Diana’s admirers, many of them suspicious of the cause of her death and resentful of Prince Charles, tied bouquets, poems and portraits to the gates of her former home.

Yesterday was a day for broadcasting video snippets of her wedding and funeral, for rehashing the rights and wrongs of her failed marriage.

It was one more day for dredging up questions about how Diana came to die in a car crash in Paris with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed.

For Harry and his older brother, Prince William, it was a simple tribute to an adored mother.

“To us, just two loving children, she was quite simply the best mother in the world,” Harry said.

“She was our guardian, friend and protector.

“She never once allowed her unfaltering love for us to go unspoken or undemonstrated.”

Harry and William were credited with organising the noon service, but Charles was blamed by many for the furore over an invitation to his current wife. Camilla, whom Diana blamed for breaking up her marriage, decided to stay home.

Bishop Chartre called for an end to the sniping.

“Still 10 years after her tragic death, there are regular reports of ‘fury’ at this or that incident and the princess’s memory is used for scoring points. Let it end here,” the bishop said. “Let this service mark the point at which we let her rest in peace and dwell on her memory with thanksgiving and compassion.”

A few hundred people gathered outside — a smaller crowd than the masses that lined the route of Diana’s funeral procession to Westminster Abbey. “She reached our lives deeply, even in America. She brought life to the palace and warmth, and that’s what the monarchy needed,” said Arlene Fitch, 54, of Boston.

The Rev Frank Gelli, who has led an informal service outside Kensington Palace every year, said this probably would be the last.

“It would be good if the princess was allowed to rest,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were among the 500 people in the chapel. Prince Edward, Charles’s younger brother, and his sister, Princess Anne, also were there, as were Prime Minister Gordon Brown, former prime minister John Major and Tony Blair, and representatives of 110 charities Diana supported.

Elton John came, but did not perform. His reworking of Candle in the Wind, was a poignant moment for many at Diana’s funeral.

Mohamed al Fayed, who accused Prince Philip of masterminding a plot to kill Diana and Dodi Fayed, was not on the guest list. He observed his own two minutes of silence at Harrods, his department store, an hour before the memorial service. His daughter, Camilla al Fayed, however, did attend the official service.

In Paris, dozens of emotional visitors came and stopped by a gold-coloured statue of a flame over the bustling roadway tunnel where Diana died.

A poll commissioned by Channel 4 television in Britain found that 25% of the public believes Diana was murdered, but 59% thought it was an accident.

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