Diana, The People's Princess July 1, 1961 - August 31, 1997: Heads bowe d, the great the good and the famous stood in silence for a final tribute.
The three tenors - heavyweight Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras - were among the mourners , even though Pavarotti had said earlier in the week that he was "too distraught" to attend.
Hollywood stars Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise, with his wife Nicole Kidman, were there, along with Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg.
British showbusiness stars were united in their grief, arriving with heads bowed and no sign of the usual round of autograph-hunters.
Apart from Elton John, whose new version of Candle In The Wind captured the grief of the occasion, guests from the world of pop included Sting and his wife Trudie Styler, along with Sir Cliff Richard, George Michael and Chris de Burgh, who has written a song tribute to Diana.
As Elton John took his place in the Abbey with his partner David Furnish he blew a kiss to a friend in the congregation.
Other well-known faces included Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Shirley Bassey, Michael Caine, Wayne Sleep - who once danced live on stage with Princess Diana - Lord Attenborough, Sir Jimmy Savile, Tom Conti, Clive James, Michael Barrymore and his wife, Billy Connolly, Ruby Wax and Jane Asher.
Imran Khan arrived with his wife Jemima, one of Diana's closest friends, and Jemima's mother Lady Annabel Goldsmith. The family is still in mourning for Sir James Goldsmith, who died a few weeks ago. Other friends included James Gilbey, Carolyn Bartholomew and the British fashion designers Bruce Oldfield and David and Elizabeth Emanuel, who created Diana's spectacular wedding dress.
Alongside the stars were the politicians and world leaders who had met Diana and admired her. Former BBC war correspondent turned independent MP Martin Bell, famed for his white suits, turned up all in black - despite the Spencer family not insisting on formal mourning clothes.
Meanwhile political rivals past and present were united in their sadness. The list included Prime Minister Tony Blair and wife Cherie, Tory leader William Hague and his fiancee Ffion Jenkins, and Liberal-Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown with his wife Jane.
Also present were Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and wife Pauline. Lady Thatcher and her husband Denis, former Labour Prime Minister Lord Callaghan and his daughter Baroness Jay, Sir Edward Heath and John Major and his wife Norma.
Other political guests included Virginia Bottomley, Cabinet Secretary Sir Robin Butler, former Liberal leader Lord Steel and the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd. Winston Churchill MP, grandson of Britain's wartime leader, made his way to his seat past the Abbey's memorial to the great hero whose funeral in January 1965 also drew vast crowds to central London.
As on that occasion, the people needed some joy amid the sorrow. So when a coach-load of Chelsea Pensioners, survivors from the First World War, arrived there was spontaneous applause.
There were cheers for the Royal Family, too, after a week of shifting emotions.
As the guests started filing into the Abbey, the Queen and three generations of the Royal Family made an unprecedented appearance at the gates of Buckingham Palace.
The Queen, dressed all in black, was accompanied by the Princess Royal, Princess Margaret, the Duke of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of York with their two daughters.
The crowd outside were scarcely able to believe that the family had joined their vigil on the streets of London, and they broke into a spontaneous round of applause.
Diana's mother Mrs Frances Shand Kydd arrived at the Abbey at the same time as Mohamed Al Fayed and his wife Heini.
Mr Al Fayed's beloved son and heir Dodi died in the crash with Diana and the multi-millionaire is grieving his loss intensely.
Foreign governments sent their respects to Diana, too.
Bernadette Chirac arrived to represent France in place of her husband, President Jacques Chirac. Hillary Clinton arrived shortly afterwards to represent the United States in place of the President.
Egypt's first lady Suzanne Mubarak also attended the funeral, along,with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his wife Nancy, who followed society photographer Lord Snowdon into Westminster Abbey.
Among the charity chiefs in the congregation were the Rev Tony Lloyd of the Leprosy Mission and Mike Whitlam of the British Red Cross.
The HIV charity London Lighthouse was represented by Susie Parsons, along with a staff member and five HIV sufferers.
Cancer victim Hollie Everson, seven,was chosen to attend the ceremony as a living symbol of Diana's charity work.
The youngster, who had met the princess twice, was supported by her mother Jennie.
For Hollie, it was an ordeal: to say goodbye to the beautiful Princess who had touched her life with joy.
For the crowds inside the Abbey and the millions around the world it was a way to say farewell.
In Elton John's words, the stars, the politicians and the public said: "Goodbye England's rose."
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Sep 7, 1997|
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