Earl's Eulogy Slams Press, Royals

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WESTMINSTER: Before the sadness finally flooded his voice, Earl Spencer's tribute to his sister was a requiem of steel. Here was the head of her blood family drawing a line in the dust against those who had wronged her: the press, who "hunted" Diana, and the Royal Family, whose title she did not need. The implication was clear: All that was good about the Princess existed outside Palace walls.

In what will surely be remembered as an intensely political eulogy, the Earl stated his determination that his nephews William and Harry would fare better than their mother. Firing a warning shot across the Royal's bows, he vowed to ensure that "their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly" as Diana had planned.

Most accused of all were her constant pursuers: the "ever-present paparazzi," who turned Diana into "the most hunted person of the modern age." The Earl, who pointedly withdrew the invitations of six British tabloid editors yesterday, wondered aloud why her "good intentions were sneered at by the media." Though in the end, when he came to the "small mercies" of his loss, Spencer dropped his sword — and simply reminded us of all the humanity that is not apparent on the cover of a newspaper.

TIME's London Bureau Chief Barry Hillenbrand was inside Westminster Abbey for the service. He tells this story:

"There was one magic moment, really, after that speech. When he finished, there was this complete silence. Then, you were listening, from inside the abbey, and you heard this patter —it sounded like rain. What was happening? And then you realized it was applause, that had started outside the abbey doors, in the crowd. And then it began to spread inside. It was like a wind, like a wave, that came in, and up through the pews, and then receded until it was outside again.

Now obviously, there are traditionalists that would say — and I'm one of them — that you should never applaud in a church. But this was so spontaneous, and so magical, that it was really perfect."
The complete text of Earl Spencer's speech

For the complete funeral report, turn to People Daily

Complete Coverage of the Diana story The procession and funeral photo essay