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Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 06:13 GMT
Blair's condolences for Royal Family
Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth as children
Princess Margaret (left) and her older sister
Prime Minister Tony Blair has been leading the tributes and condolences to Princess Margaret who has died peacefully in her sleep aged 71.

Mr Blair, on a four-day visit to west Africa, said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Princess Margaret. My thoughts are with the Queen, the Queen Mother, and the rest of the Royal Family at this moment."

Pope John Paul II sent a telegram of sympathy to the Royal Family.

It said: "Saddened to learn of the death of Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, I express to Your Majesty and to the Royal Family my deep sympathy at this time of sorrow.

'Deepest sympathy'

"Commending your sister to the God of all consolation and praying that she will find eternal rest beyond the travails of human life and the fraility she knew in recent years, I invoke upon all who are mourning her loss the peace which is Jesus Christ, the first-born from the dead."

Iain Duncan Smith, leader of the Conservative Party, said: "I am deeply saddened by this morning's announcement that Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret, died in hospital.

Princess Margaret in later life
The Princess's health had been failing

"An active member of the Royal Family and a strong servant of her country, she will be sorely missed."

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, echoed the messages and said: "I was very sad to hear of the death of Princess Margaret.

"We all suffer when we lose a close relative and I offer the Queen, the Queen Mother and the Royal Family my greatest sympathy."

The Scottish and Welsh national parties, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, also offered their sympathies.

The Prince of Wales, who is staying with friends in Chatsworth, Derbyshire, was said to be "deeply saddened" by the news, as were his sons, Princes William and Harry.

A spokesman for St James's Palace said: "The Prince of Wales is deeply saddened by the death of Princess Margaret. He was informed immediately."

'Devout Christian'

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said: "I learnt with sorrow this morning of the death of Princess Margaret.

"She was a much-loved member of our Royal Family and a great support to Her Majesty throughout the Queen's reign.

Buckingham Palace flag at half-mast to mark death of Princess Margaret
Royal households have been sent condolences

"In her life Princess Margaret showed great courage in the face of her troubles and met adversity with determination and good humour.

"Throughout her life, she was sustained by her faith - as usual she had been due to join the Lambeth Palace community for their Ash Wednesday devotions next week.

"She was a devout Christian and her faith was very real and very strong."

A statement from the office of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said: "The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has written to the Queen to express his sadness and deepest sympathy at the death of her sister, Princess Margaret.

"His thoughts and prayers and those of the whole Catholic community are with all the members of the Royal Family and especially Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto at this very sad time."

Princess Margaret was the first member of the Royal Family to attend a Jewish service, in May 1990 when she was present at Maidenhead Synagogue to mark the congregation's 50th anniversary.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, said: "Princess Margaret will be remembered for a life that involved both colour and sadness, but which never deterred her from fulfilling her public duties.

"The Jewish community of Britain extends special condolences to the Queen Mother, for while everyone expects to lose their parents or siblings at some stage, it is desperately painful for parents to witness the death of their children."

'Ebullient personality'

Princess Margaret's cousin, Lord Lichfield, said the Princess found true happiness on the island of Mustique.

He said: "I am extremely sad. My main memories go back to the fact that we both shared a passion for the island of Mustique, where we both had houses.

"She was the life and soul of the island in so many ways. She was ebullient and it was the sort of place that she really enjoyed."

He said the Princess had been very vivacious and had a beautiful "sparkle" in her youth, that had been captured by photographers such as Cecil Beaton, and her husband Lord Snowdon.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Prime Minister Tony Blair
"The whole country will be deeply saddened"
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
"We must think of this in family terms"
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey
"We can thank God for her life"

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Princess Margaret 1930-2002
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