An excerpt from my novel More Famous Than The Queen. My main character – so famous he is just known by initials – is at the funeral of Princess Diana.
The casket reaches the Sacrarium. ST leaves his thoughts behind to follow the service, listen to the words, and sing along with the hymns.
Although he has no fondness for opera and operatic song, ST finds the soprano’s voice pleasant, and drifts along with the Latin text: “Dies illa, dias irae … Day of wrath, day of calamity and woe.” He finds Elton John’s presentation bizarre yet sincere.
The rest of the service proceeds around him, but he only stands and sits by following the motion and noise of those fore and aft. Perhaps it is his deficient attention span, perhaps it is jet lag (he did not get any rest yesterday), but, much as he did as a child on Sunday, ST slips into a revere.
He wonders where Diana is.
If the whole context of this service is correct, and her Spirit Everlasting is afloat in some other world, does she have the slightest interest in these proceedings? Do you care what is on the plate after you have eaten the meal?
Is it – as he hopes – an all new wonderful adventure?
ST is returned to the present by the familiar words of The Lord’s Prayer. He is actually reciting “Give us this day our daily bread” before he realizes what he is doing.
Stopped in place and time.
He could be a child again (perhaps he is) wondering what `trespasses’ are. He could be the aware young man, wondering why God would have a penchant to lead us into temptation. And he could be as he now is, wondering if this was the only way for a troubled young woman to be delivered from evil.
ST is fully attentive to the final hymn, and The Commendation of the Dead to the Lord.
He suspects it is an all-or-nothing package: that Diana and Jesus and God are present and appreciative to what is happening around him; or that he and everyone else are just singing and praying to the empty rafters. He fears his faith has skidded to the unstable foundation of hope.
The cortege prepares to leave the Abbey. Although the choir sings as the procession slowly moves to the west end of the church, it is really silence which hangs over this vast array of people. Again the casket with its ruptured body wend their way down the aisle, the flower arrangement an almost dull glow in this final, sombre setting.
“Weeping at the grave creates the song.”
Or so the song goes.
Then there is the final minute.
The minute of silence.
Observed by the Nation.
Observed by ST.
Observed -perhaps- as a minute’s pause in the enormous expanse of Eternity by a dead princess.