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14,000 Honor Princess Diana in N.Y. Central Park Service

September 15, 1997|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — On foot, on bicycles, some with dogs on leashes, about 14,000 people converged on Central Park for a memorial service Sunday to honor Princess Diana.

It was the first such event in the park since a memorial in 1980 for another British icon, John Lennon.

"More than anything, I came to say goodbye to someone who cared about the poor and needy, who was rich and privileged enough not to have to," said Richard Thomson, 47, a Scottish-born New Yorker.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Britain's consul general in New York, Jeffrey Ling, headed the all-faith program that honored Diana for both her charity work and her sense of style.

"She disarmed us with her humility," Giuliani said, mistakenly referring to the princess of Wales as the princess of York before the crowd's murmuring led him to correct himself. "We were drawn to her ultimately because of her heart, not her nobility."

Opera divas Jessye Norman and Denyce Graves and the Metropolitan Opera chorus and orchestra performed music by Bach, Verdi and Berlioz.

Diana's dedication to charitable causes was underscored by tributes from Dr. Margaret Haggerty, director of the AIDS pediatric unit at Harlem Hospital, and Sister Paula Marie, a member of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity.

The New York memorial came eight days after Diana, killed in an auto crash in Paris on Aug. 31, was buried at her family's estate northwest of London, and two days after Mother Teresa's funeral in Calcutta.

The princess of Wales and the 87-year-old Nobel Prize winner last met in New York three months ago, talking for 40 minutes at the South Bronx convent of the Missionaries of Charity, where Mother Teresa was staying during an extended visit to New York.

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