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Diana Was to Be Envoy, Blair Reveals

Prime minister says on TV that princess agreed before she died to be a special ambassador. He later meets with queen.


LONDON — Shortly before her death, Princess Diana accepted a long-sought offer to serve as a special ambassador for Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Sunday, promising that her memory and good works will endure.

"Compassion is the best legacy. That is what she was about," said Blair.

Diana, who lost her royal status when she was divorced from Prince Charles in 1996, had hoped to adopt some semiofficial role as an ambassador of goodwill to go along with her private efforts to bring attention to issues such as the proliferation of land mines.

Blair, whose Labor Party was elected in a landslide in May, said he spoke with the princess about a special role not long before she died.

"She had a tremendous ability, as we saw over the land mines issue . . . to enter into an area that could have been one of controversy and suddenly just clarify for people what was clearly the right thing to do," Blair told BBC interviewer David Frost. "I felt there were all sorts of ways that could have been harnessed and used for the good of people."

The grass-roots public tribute to Diana, meanwhile, knotted London anew Sunday, a day after her funeral. The largest crowds thus far flocked to her home at Kensington Palace, adding to the ocean of flowers and messages left there since her Aug. 31 death in a Paris car crash. Bus and taxi journeys that ordinarily last 20 minutes took nearly two hours in central London on Sunday afternoon.


Blair journeyed to Scotland on Sunday to discuss the future of the tarnished monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family in the aftermath of not only the searing national grief over Diana but criticism of the family as being slow to publicly join the mourning.

Details of the talks were not disclosed. However, before leaving for the weekend encounter that had been planned before Diana's death, the prime minister voiced support for the monarchy in a televised interview with Frost.

"I personally think that the monarchy is a tradition which we want to keep," Blair said. Asked if he thought Charles would make a good king, he replied, "Yes, I do."

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, were cheered Sunday by small crowds of Scots as they rode to the same country church where they accompanied Diana's children a few hours after her death.

Sitting with the 97-year-old queen mother in Crathie Parish Church, the royal couple listened to the Rev. Robert Sloan praise Diana "for the qualities of character and personality which made her so special, for the wit and openness of her compassion and for her ability to identify with the suffering of men and women and children."


Diana's children, Princes William, 15, and Harry, 12, spent Sunday with their father at his home at Highgrove in western England, where they traveled Saturday after Diana was buried in a family-only ceremony at her family's estate about 80 miles northwest of London.

Charles has asked for "space and time" to allow the princes to mourn and mature beyond any intrusive gaze. Diana often complained of being hounded by photographers, and French authorities are investigating what role paparazzi chasing the car in which she was riding might have played in the crash that took her life and the lives of her companion, Dodi Fayed, and their driver.

Responding to calls for privacy laws in Britain to protect the royal family and other celebrities from paparazzi, the respected Independent newspaper said that in the future, it will not publish pictures of William and Harry taken in private circumstances.

The Press Complaints Commission, an official media watchdog group, said it will confer with editors of populist tabloids this week with proposals for self-regulation in coverage of William and Harry.

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