Queen Speaks to Nation

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LONDON: Her back was to the crowd below. But as she stood for the BBC camera, Queen Elizabeth II spoke as she never had before: live for the British people from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. This was about as accessible as Her Majesty gets. Indeed, after 40 years of opening Parliament and pre-taping her Christmas broadcasts, the Queen was now making an extraordinary attempt to return to her people's hearts by expressing grief over the death of Diana.

For some five minutes, she delivered her lines as she always had: plainly and coolly. And her words were reminders of how different the Princess was from the elder Royals that survive her. "No one who knew Diana will ever forget her," she said. "Millions of others who never met her, but felt they knew her, will remember her." For some of those millions, seven minutes of rehearsed sympathies seemed a frustrating display of royal reticence. But at least one subject interviewed afterwards by reporters felt that he understood: the Queen, he insisted, had said all she could.

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