Related topics

Dignitaries won’t monopolize the 2,000 invitations to Diana’s funeral

September 4, 1997 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ Buckingham Palace has not released a guest list for Princess Diana’s funeral, but organizers hope attendees will range from the world-famous to the obscure.

The mix reflects the Buckingham Palace’s stated goal of staging a ``unique funeral for a unique person.″

Prime Minister Tony Blair will attend Saturday’s ceremony in Westminster Abbey, and former premiers John Major, Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan and Edward Heath have been invited.

The list of 2,000 people certainly will include dignitaries. But it promises to be less stacked than usual with the politicians and royalty generally invited to the funerals of major figures. It is not a state funeral, so the usual protocol does not apply.

Organizers said they wanted to keep the number of politicians down to have more room for Diana’s friends and those involved in the charities she supported.

A New Jersey couple who hired Diana as a babysitter in London before she entered the royal spotlight has been invited, WCBS radio in New York reported. Mary Robertson, who lived in London in 1980, told The Associated Press she paid Diana $5 an hour at the time to babysit her 1-year-old son.

A palace spokeswoman said Wednesday the full roster of attendees probably would not be released before the funeral.

This much is known:

U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton is to attend, as is U.S. Ambassador William Crowe and Bernadette Chirac, the wife of French President Jacques Chirac.

Elton John, a close friend of the princess’s, plans to be at the funeral, but denied newspaper reports he had been invited to sing, saying that was still ``up in the air.″

The Italian news agency ANSA said the designer Valentino, who had worked with Diana on AIDS projects, would attend.

The Spanish royal family said it had received an invitation but had not decided whom to send.

The royal families of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, which do not have close contacts with the British royals, will not send anyone. A Dutch government spokesman said it was unclear if anyone from the government or royal family would go.

Others definitely attending include: British Foreign Minister Robin Cook, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, New Zealand Foreign Minister Don McKinnon, Swiss Ambassador Francois Nordmann, British Conservative Party leader William Hague, Liberal Democrat Party leader Paddy Ashdown and Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble.