Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Expatriates, Russians Share Grief

Flowers carpeted the steps in front of the British Embassy in Moscow on Monday and the Union Jack hung at half mast as Russians and expatriates mourned Diana, the Princess of Wales.


A steady stream of people have paid tribute to Diana at the embassy since news emerged early Sunday of her death after a horrific car crash in Paris. Her companion, Dodi Al Fayed, and the driver of the vehicle were also killed.


"It is a real tragedy," said retired geologist Galina Erinyeva, crying as she lit a small candle and placed flowers Monday at the embassy. "I first saw her picture in a shop window near Kievsky Station after [Prince] William was born. She had a tragic face, one that reminded me of Natalya Goncharova," the wife of the poet Alexander Pushkin.


A large photograph of a young Diana hugging her small children as they sat on a swing was propped up next to the embassy's wrought-iron fence. It was surrounded by flowers. Journalists and camera-toting tourists also milled around outside.


"I felt for her as a woman," said Lena Bulatova, 30, an engineer who had brought a small bunch of wildflowers to lay outside the embassy. "Her death was a terrible shock to me. She had looked so happy lately. Nobody can replace her for the Russian people."


Moscow-based Britons reacted with shock and disbelief to news of the princess' death.


"I thought people were joking at first," said Ben Carey, 25, a British postgraduate student who, unlike most of his compatriots, found out about the tragedy only on Monday.


"Although I didn't have strong feelings about her, the whole thing is very disorientating. It hit me quite strongly," he said. "Maybe it would be the same if [Russian pop star] Alla Pugachyova died. Whether we wanted it or not, [Diana] was a large part of our lives for a long time. We all felt like we knew her."


It was uncertain whether the Anglican Church in Moscow will hold a memorial service for Diana. Sir Andrew Wood, the British ambassador, was on leave in Britain when the accident occurred. An announcement about a Moscow service was expected only after his return Monday evening.


However, mourners may sign a condolences book at the embassy from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. As in Moscow, British embassies across the world have been turned into temporary shrines to Diana.Princess Diana visited Moscow in June 1995. On her two-day visit, she called on then-social security minister Lyudmila Bezlepkina and visited the Bolshoi Theater and the Kremlin. She also visited north Moscow's Tushinskaya children's hospital in her capacity as patron of the Tushinskaya Children's Hospital Trust, established after the 1988 earthquake in Yerevan when young victims were brought to the hospital for treatment.


She then visited the Moscow office of Motivation, a British charity with an attached workshop where wheelchairs are made for Russian children with cerebral palsy.


President Boris Yeltsin expressed profound condolences on Diana's death while visiting a Moscow school for the start of Russia's school year Monday. ***(See story, Page 7)***


Russian newspapers appeared to blame the paparazzi's relentless pursuit of Diana, and their intrusion into her private life, for her untimely death.


"Her death is a matter of conscience of those tabloid reporters who hounded her everywhere," read a front-page story Monday in the liberal daily Komsomolskaya Pravda.


"Curiosity Killed Princess Diana" asserted Moskovsky Komsomolets while the daily Sevodnya newspaper carried a front-page photograph of the wreckage accompanied by the assertion that she was a victim of her own popularity.