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THE WORLD

Prince Pays Tribute to Matriarch

April 02, 2002|From Associated Press

LONDON — Prince Charles paid a moving public tribute to his late grandmother Queen Elizabeth on Monday, praising her "panache, style and unswerving dignity" as mourners across Britain left teddy bears, candles and wreaths in public places in her honor.

In a national broadcast, Charles spoke quietly and lovingly of the Queen Mum, who died Saturday at age 101, saying she was "an institution in her own right, a presence in the nation, at once indomitable, somehow timeless, able to span the generations; wise, loving, and an utterly irresistible mischievousness of spirit."

"Above all, she understood the British character and her heart belonged to this ancient land and its equally indomitable and humorous inhabitants, whom she served with panache, style and unswerving dignity for very nearly 80 years," Charles, 53, said.

The Queen Mum was the widow of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, Charles' mother.

At noon, artillery pieces thundered the start of 41-gun salutes at a dozen locations around the country and in the colony of Gibraltar.

"She always had a smile for everyone," mourner Elizabeth Addley said at a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. "She broke with tradition. While Queen Mary was rather more stiff and formal, she came along and was a breath of fresh air."

Elizabeth's coffin rested Monday in a small stone chapel at Windsor Castle, where family and staff could pay their respects before she is taken to lie in state in London before her funeral April 9.

The long period before the funeral allows for the complex logistics of a large ceremonial funeral. King George VI died Feb. 6, 1952, and after lying in state in London he was laid to rest Feb. 15.

Although life went on as normal in much of the country, hundreds of people showed up at royal locations such as Windsor Castle.

The Racing Post, a daily horse-racing paper, covered its front page with a photo of the Queen Mum and the headline "A Sport in Mourning." She was a trackside regular and successful horse breeder and once said she read the Racing Post every morning.

The public left more than 500 bouquets of flowers outside St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Tributes at the site also included teddy bears, candles and wreaths of poppies. Everywhere, flags flew at half-staff, and thousands of admirers of the former queen signed condolence books at royal palaces and homes around the country.

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