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Archbishop writes 10th anniversary prayers for Diana


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has composed two prayers to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, at the request of her sons, the Princes William and Harry.

The prayers will be used at a Church of England (Anglican) service in memory of Diana, when a 500-strong congregation, which will include Queen Elizabeth II, is expected. The service will take place at the Guards Chapel in Birdcage Walk, close to London’s Buckingham Palace, on 31 August, the anniversary of Diana’s death. She died in a Paris car crash whilst being pursued by press photographers.

"Her vulnerability and her willingness to reach out to the excluded and forgotten touched us all," says one of the prayers by the archbishop, who is the spiritual head of the 77 million-strong global Anglican Communion.

The prayers emphasise Diana’s vulnerability, as well as her desire to reach out and touch the lonely and the sick. The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, will read the prayers before Queen Elizabeth, her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, and Diana’s two sons.

Born in Wales, the archbishop is a known poet as well as renowned theologian. Lambeth Palace, the headquarters of the archbishop, has invited clergy in the church’s 13 000 English parishes to use the prayers as part of their liturgy on the anniversary day.

Other Protestant denominations, including Presbyterians and Methodists, will also say prayers in memory of the princess.

Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, and Muslim, Hindu and Jewish faiths told Ecumenical News International that, while they respected Diana, they had no plans for special services on 31 August. "We’ve received no advice from our own archbishop about this," said the Rev. Terry Phipps at St James’ Catholic Church in London. "But I will probably mention the anniversary of her death in my prayers."

At the time of her death, Diana was sitting in the back of a fast-moving car next to her companion Dodi Fayed, the son of the Egyptian-born owner of the prestigious London store, Harrods. 

(c) Ecumenical News International