The Cathedral’s condolence book on the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed is to go on display for the first time in 20 years.
It’s hard to believe so much time has passed since the tragic accident in Paris that led to such an outpouring of grief nationwide. The condolence book was opened very soon after the death of Princess Diana on 31 August 1997. It allowed visitors to the Cathedral to express their thoughts and find comfort in their faith.
In his column for the Catholic Pictorial, the Cathedral Administrator (now Monsignor) Peter Cookson said that “the Cathedral has been thronged with people all week, of every degree and condition, race and religion, seeking a place of comfort in their grief, to say a prayer, to leave a posy of flowers, to express their sadness in their own words by writing a message in our Book of Condolence”.
In fact at least 3 books of condolence were filled, covering several hundred pages, and they were bound into one volume and placed with the Archdiocesan Archives. One comment – the signature is sadly unreadable – might stand for so many of the sentiments people felt bound to commit to paper:
“A life so short, yet so full of compassion, love and true acts of generosity. A nation mourns the loss of a true Princess, in every sense of the word. May God protect William and Harry and may you rest in peace in the loving embrace of God our father.”
On the Sunday following Princess Diana’s death there was a service at the Cathedral in celebration of her life. Archbishop Patrick Kelly led the prayers of the 2000 people present – the BBC’s Songs of Praise also broadcast it live.
If you would like to take a look at the condolence book – perhaps you were one of those who wrote a message and you’d like to revisit it after the passage of time – then it will be on display in the reading room at the Archives throughout September.
Visitors with tickets to the Lutyens Crypt will be able to access the book without prior appointment Monday to Friday during opening hours. For anyone else who may be interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org