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Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 16:50 GMT
Subdued mourning for a princess
Bouquets Buckingham palace
Poignant bouquets have been left in remembrance
By BBC News Online's Lisa Mitchell, at Buckingham Palace

Just a few bouquets tied to the austere gates of Buckingham Palace showed this was not a normal Saturday morning.

The card on a simple bunch of white lilies read: "Remembered with affection for your beauty and glamour and for your loyalty and service."

The tourists gathered outside the Queen's official residence had come for the changing of the guard ceremony rather than to pay their respects to Princess Margaret.

Margaret's death notice
The Queen announces her sister Margaret's death

In fact, many of them first heard of the death when a journalist approached them for their reaction.

But a queue quickly formed to read for themselves the message from the Queen announcing to the world that her younger sister had died.

The black framed notice was tied to the railings outside the palace.

It read: "The Queen, with great sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately.

"Her beloved sister, Princess Margaret, died peacefully in her sleep this morning at 6.30am, in the King Edward VII Hospital. Her children, Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, were at her side."

Susan Morgan
Susan Morgan: Thought Margaret was very glamorous
The Woodley family from Chiseldon, Wiltshire, had no idea their trip to London would turn out to be on such a sad occasion.

"We just overheard a policeman telling someone the news about the princess," said mother-of-three Anne Woodley.

"I had to explain to the children who she was."

Margaret had rarely been seen in public in recent years but Susan Morgan, from Powys, Wales, remembered her as a dazzling princess.

"She's been out of the limelight for a long time but when she was younger she was beautiful and very glamorous," the 50-year-old machinist said.

Paul Brushwood
Paul Brushwood: She had been ill for a long time
"It's such a shame she's died in the Queen's jubilee year and it is quite poignant that it is in the same week of the anniversary of her father's death."

The sight of the union flag flying at half-mast over the palace reminded many people of the day Diana, Princess of Wales died.

In contrast to the scenes in 1997, the reaction to Margaret's death was subdued.

Worldwide mourning

Paul Brushwood, an accountant from Leeds, said he thought Princess Margaret's illness had prepared people for her death.

"It's very sad but she'd been ill for a while," the 33-year-old said.

"I don't think there will be public interest in her funeral like Diana but she is still a Royal and I think it will still be a big event."

Guglielmo Campus
Guglielmo Campus: She will be missed in Italy

Sarah Tyson, a 23-year-old analyst from Essex, agreed and said she hoped the country would have a chance to mourn.

The changing of the guard ceremony at the palace was cancelled as a mark of respect, but Italian tourist Guglielmo Campus did not mind.

"I saw the news on the BBC at my hotel and decided to come and see what was happening," the 37-year-old dentist from Sardinia said.

"We have no monarchy in Italy but we are very interested in royal gossip, and our newspapers and magazines will be full of stories about her."

Key stories




Princess Margaret 1930-2002
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