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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 16:35 GMT
Crowds say farewell to Pippi author
Funeral of Astrid Lindgren
Lindgren's coffin was covered with red roses
Thousands of Swedes have lined the streets of Stockholm to pay their final respects to children's author Astrid Lindgren, writer of Pippi Longstocking.

Her coffin was taken through the city on a horse-drawn carriage to a service in the Storkyrkan, or Great Cathedral, which was attended by the country's royal family.

Astrid Lindgren
Astrid Lindgren died in her sleep aged 94
The crowds of mourners along the route of the funeral cortège may have numbered up to 100,000, according to local radio reports.

Lindgren, who died on 28 January, aged 94, was one of the country's best-loved authors and sold more than 130 million books around the world.

Her most famous creation was Pippi Longstocking, the strongest girl in the world, known for her freckles, red hair and odd stockings.

Lindgren's white coffin was covered with red roses and taken through the streets in a black carriage.

It was escorted by mounted royal guards and followed by a white horse - a Swedish tradition.

Pippi Longstocking
Pippi lived with a monkey called Mr Nilsson
Her young fans included Fredrik Krause, 12, who wore a Pippi Longstocking wig as he waited to watch the cortege pass.

"Pippi is my favourite character," he said. "She is so strong and funny. It's sad. It feels empty."

But the arrangements reportedly left some mourners disappointed because it made its journey in 15 minutes - not the planned 45, meaning many did not get to see the procession.

The funeral service took place at the cathedral where the country's monarchs are crowned and married, and was attended by 1,500 people including King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Swedish prime minister Goeran Persson.

Lindgren will now be buried next to her parents in her Vimmerby, in the south of the country.

Astrid Lindgren and friends
Lindgren: Meeting readers in 1987
She was hugely popular in the country, where her stories became part of local culture.

The Swedish government is to set up an international literature prize in her honour.

The award will be worth 5m kronor (£340,000) and will be presented annually to promote children's literature, foreign ministry spokesman Hans Aanell said.

Lindgren's son-in-law Carl Olof Nyman welcomed the news of the award.

"I think this is an expression of the government's appreciation of Astrid Lindgren's enormous importance to Sweden's name in the world," he said.

The Swedish postal service has already honoured the writer with a set of postage stamps.

See also:

28 Jan 02 | Arts
Pippi creator Lindgren dies
23 Jan 02 | Arts
Pullman: The story's the thing
19 Jan 02 | Education
Real books beat reading schemes
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