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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 16:09 GMT
Queen resumes Royal duties
The Queen
The Queen visited a homeless shelter in east London
The Queen has made her first public appearance since the death of her sister, Princess Margaret.

Dressed in black, the Queen kept a promise to reopen the Salvation Army's Booth House hostel for homeless men in Whitechapel, east London.

She opened the original building in 1968. It recently underwent an 8m refurbishment.

The Queen had pledged to return once the work was complete and meet some of the 150 residents.

Buckingham Palace stressed that the decision to make an appearance in no way indicated a lack of feeling for Princess Margaret's death. Rather, it was an attempt to fulfil her wishes.

Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret has been praised as a "vibrant, free spirit"
The princess had not wanted her death to interfere with the running of the monarchy.

The 71-year-old princess died on Saturday after a stroke led to heart problems.

The funeral will be held Friday at St George's Chapel in Windsor - exactly 50 years from the day that her father was buried in the same place.

Buckingham Palace confirmed that Princess Margaret's body will be cremated at Slough crematorium, following the service.

Her ashes will be placed in a casket beside the coffin of her father, King George VI.

Last respects

The BBC's royal correspondent Jennie Bond said it was extremely unusual for a member of the Royal family to be cremated but Princess Margaret is believed to have set out in some detail the form she wished her funeral to take.

In accordance with the wishes of the princess's children, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, further details of their mother's funeral arrangements will not be made public until later in the week.

Princess Margaret's body left Kensington Palace, her official residence, for the last time just after 1800GMT on Monday.

Earlier the Queen spent an hour paying her private respects at the coffin of her sister before the body was moved to St James's Palace.

The coffin of the late Princess Margaret
The coffin of the late Princess Margaret is driven to the Queen's Chapel
It was taken to the Queen's Chapel in a slow-driven hearse, where it will remain until Thursday.

Members of her family and her closest friends are expected to pay their last respects.

The Queen Mother is reported to have told aides she is determined to attend the funeral.

Doctors are concerned the 101-year-old may be too frail to travel from Sandringham, in Norfolk, to Windsor.

But she has made it clear to courtiers she wants to attend, despite battling to shake off a persistent chesty cold.

Princess Anne, who is in New Zealand, is expected to visit the Winter Olympics in the United States before returning to Britain for the funeral.

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The BBC's Jennie Bond
"The Queen showed no sign of her personal grief"

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TALKING POINT

Princess Margaret 1930-2002

Talking PointFORUM
Christopher Warwick, the official biographer of Princess Margaret, will take your questions on Monday at 1415 GMTRoyal profile
Ask the official biographer: 1415GMT
See also:

12 Feb 02 | UK
Princess to be cremated
10 Feb 02 | Scotland
Prayers for Princess Margaret
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