- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2002

LONDON (Agence France-Presse) Prince Charles paid tribute yesterday to his "magical grandmother," the queen mother, in a televised address which won him sympathy and praise for going public with his emotions.

In a message broadcast from his country house, Charles, who was known to be close to the queen mother, said her death at the age of 101 on Saturday was a moment he had long dreaded.

"Somehow I never thought it would come," he went on. "She seemed gloriously unstoppable, and ever since I was a child, I adored her."

He said her death would leave an "irreplaceable chasm in countless lives."

"She was quite simply the most magical grandmother you could possibly have, and I was utterly devoted to her."

Hundreds of people yesterday signed books of condolence and left cards and floral tributes to the queen mother, although the numbers were far below those who grieved the sudden death of Princess Diana in 1997.

An early Tuesday edition of the Sun tabloid, Britain's best selling daily newspaper, said Charles' televised address showed that the royal family had learned many lessons from Diana's death.

In the days following the tragedy, the queen and other senior royals faced fierce criticism from the media, which saw them as cold, out of touch and failing to convey a sense of loss to a grieving nation.

"Charles did a magnificent job in representing the House of Windsor," as the royal family is formally known, The Sun said in an editorial.

It added: "One of the Queen Mother's many legacies will be a bringing together of the British public and the royal family."

Earlier, 41-gun salutes were fired at 12 locations in Britain and Gibraltar as a mark of respect for the queen mother.

Thousands of people, many of them tourists, watched the salutes at several locations in London, including Hyde Park, as well as Edinburgh and Stirling in Scotland, Cardiff and outside Belfast.

A packed Easter Monday sporting program also paid respects. Horse racing her favorite sport and soccer observed a minute's silence with jockeys and players wearing black armbands.

With her daughter by her side, the Queen Mother died in her sleep on Saturday, weakened by a bad cough and persistent chest infection.

Her coffin was to remain at Windsor castle, west of London, until today, and will then be carried to another royal chapel at St. James's Palace in the center of the capital.

On Friday, it will be moved to Westminster Hall where the Queen Mother's body will lie in state. Her funeral service will take place on April 9 at adjoining Westminster Abbey.

Some 1,600 soldiers from Britain and four Commonwealth countries will take part in the funeral procession.

According to media reports, senior royals, including Charles and his sons William and Harry, will walk behind the coffin, in a scene reminiscent of Diana's funeral five years ago.

The coffin will be borne on a horse-drawn gun carriage escorted by military detachments from British regiments and units from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

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