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Sunday, 7 April, 2002, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Princes remember their inspiration
Prince William and Prince Harry at Friday's procession
The princes were skiing when the Queen Mother died
Prince William and Prince Harry have given a warm tribute to a great-grandmother with an irreverent sense of humour.

The princes said the Queen Mother "had a young sense of humour", even impersonating Ali G at a family dinner.

William and Harry, away skiing in Klosters when the 101-year-old died in her sleep, joined the solemn procession of the coffin to Westminster Hall on Friday.


She loved a good laugh, even if the joke was about her

Prince William
On the Queen Mother
Their tributes came as thousands of people continued to turn out to pay respects to the Queen Mother, who is lying-in-state at Westminster Hall.

The princes described how the Queen Mother had inspired and encouraged them, revealing more about the "mischievousness of spirit" their father had spoken of.

William said: "She loved a good laugh, even if the joke was about her."

The 19-year-old recalled the day the Queen Mother discovered Ali G - the TV and film character played by Sacha Baron Cohen - and learned how to mimic his trademark finger snap and "Respec" catchphrase.

Ali G impression

"It was two or three Christmases ago, and we were sitting down watching Ali G on TV," said William.

"She saw Ali G click his fingers and say 'Respec', and Harry and I showed her what to do."


Anything that was meant to be formal and went wrong, she enjoyed - she would have a good giggle

Prince William
Prince Harry, 17, continued: "It was at the end of the meal, and she stood up and said: 'Darling, lunch was marvellous - respec,' and clicked her fingers."

William said the entire family burst out laughing, including the Queen, to whom the remark was addressed.

Echoing his father's remark that the Queen Mother had a "mischievousness of spirit", William recalled: "Anything that was meant to be formal and went wrong, she enjoyed. She would have a good giggle.

"She had such a young sense of humour."

As well as the princes, the Queen Mother also liked to keep up to date with their friends - and antics at school, William said.

He added: "She was a historic link. I looked up to her because what an achievement it was to live to 101.


Inside Westminster Hall
The atmosphere in the hall is described as "awesome"
Queen Mother's funeral
  • The public can see the lying-in-state until 1800 BST on Monday
  • Up to 70,000 people had visited by Sunday morning
  • Tuesday's funeral will be attended by 2,100 guests
  • The coffin will move to Westminster Abbey at 1118 BST for an ecumenical service


  • "She always had some great war stories and, to hear them from her, it really brought it all to life."

    He went on: "Whenever I felt ill, I always used to remember that in the same circumstances she would battle on, no matter how she felt. She never gave up."

    William tried to teach his great-grandmother some of the mysteries of modern life.

    "I was given a mobile phone for Christmas and showed it to her. I invited her to press a few buttons and it kept blinking and flashing at her, until she put it down and said: 'I think I'd better leave that to you'."

    After a lunch laid on for Prince William before heading to St Andrews University, the Queen Mother used humour to dispel his anxiety.

    "As she said goodbye, she said: 'Any good parties, invite me down'," William recalled.

    "I said yes, but there was no way. I knew full well that if I invited her down, she would dance me under the table."

    Long queues

    Meanwhile, the Queen has said she was "very touched" by the number of people prepared to queue up for hours to pay their respects to the Queen Mother at Westminster Hall.

    Thousands waited, with the hall staying open on Saturday night until 0500 BST on Sunday morning, reopening at 0800 BST.

    It is expected to remain open overnight on Sunday until 0600 BST on Monday morning, opening again at 0800 BST.

    Queuing advice
    Expect to wait several hours
    Hall open all day and overnight Sunday
    Wrap up warm
    Police queuing hotline: 0207 593 7851, 8am-8pm
    Buckingham Palace has said the Westminster Abbey funeral service on Tuesday will be traditional and ecumenical, with more than 2,000 guests attending.

    Prince Charles's partner Camilla Parker Bowles will also attend the service.

    It will include two "gentle and informal" prayers aimed at reflecting the Queen Mother's character.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's John Sudworth
    "The queue showed no sign of shrinking despite the bitter cold"

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