Saturday, August 22, 1998 Published at 23:30 GMT 00:30 UK
Diana 'false goddess' says former archbishop
Lord Coggan said his comments were not an attack on Diana
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Coggan says Diana, Princess of Wales was "a false goddess" with "pretty loose morals", it has been reported.
His comments came just days before the anniversary of Diana's death in a car crash.
He said the personality cult surrounding her reflected a vacuum in society.
"Our nation has become godless. Man is made with a hollow which only God can fill.
"The British people identified with someone who had pretty loose morals and certainly loose sexual morals.
"A period of disillusionment is bound to set in, but that provides the church with the urgent task of presenting Christ in a fresh and clear way."
Lord Coggan, 88, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1974 to 1980, said after the interview was published that he had not intended the comments to be a personal attack on the Princess.
"I was not branding her. I do not want it seen as an attack on her," he said.
"I have no further comment to make."
His comments came as a new poll revealed that 41% of Britons thought Diana's death was no accident.
Some 52% of those questioned in the Sunday Times poll said he should be granted British citizenship, even though this has been denied him in the past.
The poll also shows that the popularity of the Royal Family has grown following a slump after the princess's death.
Fewer than one in three people (29%) now believe the Queen should abdicate either immediately or when she is 75 in 2001 while 62% say she should never step down.
Yet one year ago, 52% said the Queen should abdicate immediately or when she is 75.