It may be the most memorable funeral oration of all time: Heartbroken, loving and defiant, it was by turns elegiac and fiery, elegant and over-the-top. When Princess Diana’s younger brother Charles, the ninth Earl Spencer, delivered his eulogy at her funeral in Westminster Abbey on Sept. 6, 1997, no one among the 1,900 sitting inside, nor the million listening outside in parks and on The Mall, expected what poured forth. Least of all the royal family sitting right by him. And when he finished, voice trembling with emotion, no one expected the surging applause that erupted outside and soon spread inside the abbey. It was just one more unforgettable moment when the world said goodbye to the Princess of Wales.
Here is the text of Spencer’s eulogy:
“I stand before you today the representative of a family in grief, in a country in mourning before a world in shock.
“We are all united not only in our desire to pay our respects to Diana but rather in our need to do so. For such was her extraordinary appeal that the tens of millions of people taking part in this service all over the world via television and radio who never actually met her, feel that they too lost someone close to them in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is a more remarkable tribute to Diana than I can ever hope to offer her today.
No Need for Royal Title
“Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.
“Today is our chance to say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life. We will all feel cheated always that you were taken from us so young and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now that you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are now without and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult.
“We have all despaired at our loss over the past week and only the strength of the message you gave us through your years…