On Diana's Island, the Earl Waded Ankle-Deep in the Flowers; WITH HER GRAVE SUBMERGED IN BLOOMS, THE PRINCESS'S BROTHER THANKS THE WORLD FOR THE TRIBUTES WHICH GAVE THE SPENCERS SUCH COMFORT

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Byline: PAUL HARRIS

SOMEWHERE behind the black iron gates of Althorp House, in the fragrant breeze of countless flowers, she has finally found the privacy her brother said she wanted.

No crowds, no paparazzi or bullish TV crews, just the still waters of seclusion. And, of course, those flowers.

In possibly the most sombre moment since her funeral, Earl Spencer waded ankle deep yesterday among the millions of blooms which became a spontaneous symbol of a nation's grief.

He took a boatload of bouquets and wreaths from the gates of Althorp across the lake to the island where Princess Diana was laid to rest on Saturday.

Then, in silence, he added them to a floral carpet which will eventually cover the small island.

All were provided by mourners and well-wishers who had laid them at the walls of the home near Northampton where he and Diana spent much of their childhood.

At her graveside, with luck, the flowers will form a perennial reminder of public goodwill.

Some may drop seeds to regerminate, others will break down to fertilise wild flowers which already blossom there.

Likewise, bouquets left outside Buckingham Palace, Diana's home at Kensington Palace and St James's will be spread among the palace flower beds if they are not fresh enough to give to old people's homes or charities.

It will help to fulfil her family's wish, as the Earl put it yesterday, for her legacy to be immortal.

He was rowed out to the island by gamekeeper Adey Greeno and allowed the scene to be captured by one photographer, David Jones from the Press Association, the national news agency, which then circulated the pictures.

Mr Jones said the entire island was carpeted with flowers and added: 'It really was very peaceful and extremely moving.' 'It is the peace and solemnity of the scene which really strikes you.

There was nothing but the rustle of the leaves in the trees, the sound of ducks swimming on the lake and the birds singing. In the far distance was the sound of agricultural machinery.

'It really is a tranquil haven, a place of calm. If you had a special place where you like to go and sit for a while and be silent, it was just like that.'

HE SAID the Earl was 'very composed' when he was on the island and seemed deep in thought. …