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Four attempts to dig up Princess Diana's body, claims brother Earl Spencer

New tapes: Princess Diana
New tapes: Princess Diana

People have been trying to steal or dig up Princess Diana's buried body, her brother Earl Spencer has revealed.

He said there had been four attempted break-ins at the grave site since the Princess was buried on an island in the grounds of the family’s Althorp estate in 1997.

He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have had four attempted break-ins towards her body in the last 20 years.  I am very glad that we have seen all of them off.

“There are some odd people out there.  Keeping her right here [at Althorp] is the safest place.”

Earl Spencer, 53, did not suggest motives for those trying to break in to the grave site.

If they were not out of morbid devotion or weird attempts at financial gain, it is possible that some break-ins may have been by eccentric fans trying to investigate conspiracy theories that Diana was not actually buried on the island in the lake in the grounds of Althorp in Northamptonshire.

There have been persistent suggestions, none backed by credible hard evidence, that Diana was quietly buried at a secret location, or cremated with her ashes interred in the family chapel at the church of St. Mary the Virgin with St. John in the nearby village of Great Brington.

This is despite the fact that, as Earl Spencer confirmed in his radio interview, Diana never wanted to be cremated.

In the interview, Earl Spencer, who gave the eulogy at Diana’s funeral, also claimed that he was “lied to” about Prince William and Prince Harry wanting to walk behind their mother’s coffin.

He said: “I had been a passionate advocate for William and Harry not to have to walk behind their mother’s body.  I thought it was a bizarre and cruel thing for them to be asked to do.

The young princes in policemen outfits
The young princes in policemen outfits
Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Harry on the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia (Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry)

“I was liaising with some courtier at Buckingham Palace and he mentioned it, and I went ‘Of course they are not going to do that’, and he said ‘Well it’s been decided.’

“I did feel she [Diana] would have wanted me to speak for her in that particular regard.  I said ‘She just wouldn’t want them to do this’.

“There was lots of embarrassed coughing at the other end, and various other conversations, and then eventually I was lied to and told they wanted to do it, which of course they didn’t.

“But I didn’t realise that.”

Prince Harry, who was 12 at the time of his mother’s death, told in June how harrowing the experience of walking behind his mother’s coffin had been, and how he thought no child should have been asked to do it.

He said: “My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television.

Diana, Princess of Wales embracing Prince Harry while on holiday
Diana, Princess of Wales embracing Prince Harry while on holiday
Diana, Princess of Wales with Prince William while pregnant with Prince Harry

"I don't think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don't think it would happen today.”

It has also been reported that Prince William, then aged 15, initially refused to walk behind the coffin.

Earl Spencer said the walk behind Diana’s coffin was the "most horrifying half hour of my life".

He explained: "We would walk a 100 yards and hear people sobbing and then walk round a corner and somebody wailing and shouting out messages of love to Diana or William and Harry, and it was a very, very tricky time.

Earl Spencer added that the emotion of the crowd was "pulsing" through them as they followed the coffin.

He said: "The feeling, the sort of absolute crashing tidal wave of grief coming at you as you went down this sort tunnel of deep emotion, it was really harrowing and I still have nightmares about it now.

Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana, Princess of Wales
The Prince and Princess of Wales
(Left to right) Earl Spencer, Prince William, Prince Harry and The Prince of Wales at the funeral of Diana

"So there was the inner turmoil of thinking, 'My God this is ghastly' but then the point of thinking these two boys are doing this and it must be a million times worse for them.

"It was truly horrifying, actually."

Princess Diana competing in the mothers’ race in 1991 at Harry’s school sport’s day
Princess Diana competing in the mothers’ race in 1991 at Harry’s school sport’s day
The Prince and Princess of Wales on their wedding day (PA)

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