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Charles's anguish for his 'magical grandmother' QUEEN MOTHER: 'She was the original life enhancer, whether publicly or privately, whoever she was with'.

Byline: SAM GREENHILL

THE Prince of Wales yesterday paid a moving tribute to his "darling grandmother", the Queen Mother.

In a passionate address from his Highgrove home, Charles said she had an "utterly irresistible mischievousness of spirit" and her death was a moment he had dreaded.

"Somehow I never thought it would come, " he added.

The prince said, "She seemed gloriously unstoppable and ever since I was a child I adored her."

The prince's eyes filled up as he recalled how he used to laugh and laugh with the Queen Mother.

"She was quite simply the most magical grandmother you could possibly have and I was utterly devoted to her.

"Her departure has left an irreplaceable chasm in countless lives but, thank God, we are all the richer for the sheer joy and her presence and everything she stood for."

The prince, wearing a dark suit and black tie, was seated in the Orchard Room in an outbuilding of his Gloucestershire residence, with two framed photographs of the Queen Mother on a table behind him.

White and purple orchids stood in pots around him.

The Prince described the Queen Mother as an "institution in her own right" and "somehow timeless", and paid tribute to her "infectious optimism". He said she meant everything to him and countless others.

"Above all, she understood the British character and her heart belonged to this ancient land and its equally indomitable and humorous inhabitants, whom she served with panache, style and unswerving dignity for very nearly 80 years, " he said.

The Prince, sat in a red leatherpadded wooden armchair, was composed throughout the five-minute address, to an ITN camera and a Press Association reporter.

Behind him on a wooden table was a silver-framed portrait of the Queen Mother, in a pink coat and matching hat, at her home in northern Scotland.

Next to it was another portrait of her, smiling in a blue feathered hat and pearl necklace. At the bottom of the print was written in faded black ink: "With much love Granny 1976."

Although his address was prerecorded, the Prince did it in one take.

He spoke virtually off-the-cuff, occasionally glancing down at his lap where he had brief notes sketched on a piece of paper.

Words from the heart

THIS is the full transcript of the Prince of Wales's tribute to the Queen Mother:

"I know what my darling grandmother meant to so many other people. She literally enriched their lives and she was the original life enhancer, whether publicly or privately, whoever she was with.

"And, in many ways, she had become an institution in her own right; a presence in the nation and in other realms and territories beyond these shores. At once indomitable, somehow timeless, able to span the generations; wise, loving, and an utterly irresistible mischievousness of spirit.

"An immensely strong character, combined with a unique natural grace, and an infectious optimism about life itself."

"Above all, she understood the British character and her heart belonged to this ancient land and its equally indomitable and humorous inhabitants, whom she served with panache, style and unswerving dignity for very nearly 80 years.

"I know too what she meant to my whole family, particularly the Queen, to whom she was such a stalwart and sensitive support when my grandfather died, when he was only two-anda-half years older than I am now.

"For me, she meant everything and I had dreaded, dreaded this moment along with, I know, countless others.

"Somehow, I never thought it would come. She seemed gloriously unstoppable and, since I was a child, I adored her.

"Her houses were always filled with an atmosphere of fun, laughter and affection, and I learnt so much from her of immense value to my life.

"Apart from anything else, she wrote such sparklingly wonderful letters and her turn of phrase could be utterly memorable.

"Above all, she saw the funny side of life and we laughed until we cried - oh, how I shall miss her laugh and wonderful wisdom born of so much experience and an innate sensitivity to life.

"She was quite simply the most magical grandmother you could possibly have, and I was utterly devoted to her.

"Her departure has left an irreplaceable chasm in countless lives but, thank God, we are all the richer for the sheer joy of her presence and everything she stood for."

CAPTION(S):

TO THE ECHO: Field guns at Cardiff City Hall take part in the nationwide tribute yesterday Picture: Andrew James LEFT: Prince Charles, who spoke to journalists at Highgrove yesterday ABOVE: Four royal gamekeepers, wearing their trditional uniform of Windsor Tweed, stand vigil yesterday by the Queen Mother's coffin in the Royal Chapel of All Saints, Windsor
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 2, 2002
Words:787
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