LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince William made sure his mother Princess Diana in his own words didn’t “miss out” on the ceremony and celebrations for his wedding to Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey on Friday.
His bride wore Diana’s engagement ring, a hymn from his late mother’s funeral was sung at the service and guests included Elton John — who sang “Candle in the Wind” at Diana’s funeral in the abbey.
Fourteen years ago, the eyes of the world watched as William, then 15, walked solemnly behind the coffin of his mother as it was taken through the packed streets of London to her funeral.
William wed Middleton in front of almost 2,000 guests and an audience of millions worldwide. But the one person conspicuous by her absence was Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997.
From the moment the couple announced they were getting married last November, William has deliberately put the memory of Diana at the center of celebrations, giving Middleton his mother’s large blue oval sapphire and diamond engagement ring.
“It’s very special to me,” William told reporters in November. “It’s my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement and the fact we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.”
The build-up to the day and the ceremony itself has been littered with reminders of Diana.
“The only downside on a perfect day was Diana not being there,” her brother Charles Spencer told the BBC after the wedding service.
Before the wedding, the couple were reported to have visited Diana’s resting place, an island at her family’s Althorp estate in central England.
“It was very important for William to take Kate to visit his mum just before their wedding day,” a source told the Daily Mirror newspaper. “It is tragic that she won’t be there to see the wedding and that she never got to meet his bride.”
The wedding address was delivered by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, who knew Diana since her 1981 marriage to William’s father Prince Charles and was an executor of her will.
He also delivered an address at a memorial service to mark the 10th anniversary of her death.
One of the hymns chosen by the couple for their service, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer,” was the final one to be sung at Diana’s funeral.
“I think it’s the most joyous result and I’m sure Diana would be very, very happy about it,” pop star John said of William’s upcoming wedding in a recent U.S. TV interview.
Diana was a royal outcast when she was killed aged 36, a year after she and Charles divorced.
However, her huge popularity both at home and abroad dwarfed that of the royal family and her early death generated enormous sympathy for William and his younger brother Harry, sentiments that have meant both retain much public sympathy to this day.
Two other guests at Friday’s wedding will also forever be linked to Diana and her untimely death — Charles’s second wife Camilla who he married in 2005 and Diana’s brother.
Diana blamed Camilla for the breakdown of her relationship with heir-to-the-throne Charles, famously saying in a TV interview “there were three of us in this marriage.”
Spencer will be remembered for the scathing attack he launched on the House of Windsor at his sister’s funeral, promising William and Harry would not be stifled by the royals and their souls would not be immersed by duty and tradition.
He gave the wedding his seal of approval.
“It was incredibly beautiful wasn’t it? Very moving,” he said, before expressing regret at Diana’s absence.
“But what a wonderful day, such a celebration.” (Editing by Paul Casciato)