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Eulogy for Diana, Princess of Wales,
Westminster Abbey

Read the eulogy by Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, and think about the following questions.

a) What is the purpose of the opening sentence?
b) Say it out loud:

  • What kind of rhythm and structure does it have?
  • What tone do these help to create?

  • 2. Trace the structure of the speech.  The following headings may help:

  • Personal memories
  • Her insecurity
  • Not just a family, but a world, in mourning
  • Thank God
  • Her problems with the media
  • Her special qualities & achievements
  • Her children

  • 3.
    a) What is the tone of most of the first half of the speech?
        (Mournful?  Sombre?  Despairing?  Stately?  Majestic?  Celebratory?)
    b) Where does the tone change?  What causes the change?
    c) Does it change again?  How?

    a) What pronoun does the earl use to refer to Diana in the first three-quarters or so of the speech?
    b) How does this change in the fifth paragraph from the end?  What is the effect of this change?

    5. The eulogy contains numerous examples of parallelism.  This means that several parts of a sentence (or even several sentences) are phrased in a similar way.  It adds balance, rhythm and clarity to the sentence.

    e.g. We are all united today not only in our desire to pay our respects
    to Diana, but rather in our need to do so.
    e.g. a family in grief, in a country in mourning, before a world in
    Find other examples of parallelism.  What is the effect of this device, particularly as regards the tone of the speech?

    6. Like any eulogy, this one obviously aims to celebrate the special qualities and achievements of the dead person, and express the sorrow of the bereaved.  What other purposes does this particular eulogy have?

    Comparative Commentary
    Compare the Earl Spencer eulogy with W H Auden's "Stop all the Clocks", a poem made famous by the movie, "Four Weddings and a Funeral".  Consider the structure of Auden's poem (e.g. its increasingly extravagant imperatives); the change of tone in the third stanza; and the grand, public imagery to express a very personal emotion.  Compare the structure and tone especially with those of Earl Spencer's eulogy.

    Frankie Meehan