WASHINGTON More than 6,000 people, most of them less intent on worship than on seeing Princess Diana, gathered Sunday at Washington Cathedral for Prince Charles’ participation in the Episcopal service.

Lines began forming at the doors at 3:30 a.m. for the 2,000 public seats in the ornate Gothicstyled cathedral. Near the front were Judy Preston and her daughter Phyllis, 15, of Lansing, Mich.

“For her birthday, I gave her a choice,” Mrs. Preston said, “a trip to Washington for this (to see Diana) or a car. She took this.”

Phyllis wore a white beaded lace and satin dress with a net brimmed hat.

“She had bought it just for this occasion,” her mother said. “I got it at the Lansing Mall.”

Accompanied by Episcopal Bishop John Walker, Charles and Diana entered the sanctuary, passing a few hundred diplomatic officials, just before the service began.

 * The princess wore a fitted suit black skirt and white jacket with black lapels and a shallow crowned black and white hat with twin black and white feathers.

The prince and princess sat near the altar, across the aisle from Vice President George Bush and his wife, Barbara. and behind a huge stone pillar that blocked them from view of photographers and reporters during the Episcopal service,


It was Charle’s second visit to the cathedral. In 1981, he participated in a service during a visit by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is regarded as head of all Anglican associated churches, including the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Church of England, to which Charles belongs.

Charles, wearing a dark gray suit, spoke confidently and quietly as he took part in Sunday’s service. He read Isaiah 35: 110, a prophetic Bible passage on the “joyful flourishing of Christ’s Kingdom” after the coming of the Lord. “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,” he read, “and the ears of the deaf unstopped.”

Britons in the audience, including Charles, wore red poppies in their labels for “Remembrance Day”, commemorating Britian’s war dead. In his sermon, Bishop Walker mentioned both the British Remembrance Day and America’s equivalent, Monday’s Veteran’s Day.

Walker, the sixth Episcopal bishop of Washington and a founder of the Urban Bishops Coalition, added a touch of levity to the service as he noted the admiration Americans are showing the prince of their former rulers.

“There are moments when one wonders if the prince said, “All is forgiven, come home,” Walker said.

The cathedral, by most measures the world’s largest, was begun in 1907 after Congress voted in favor of a great cathedral for the nation’s capital. Some of its Gothic towers are still uncompleted for lack of funds.

Although affiliated with the Episcopal Church, it is not 4 parish and has no regular members. Services of all faiths are conducted in its various chapels, and its stated goal is to be “a church for all people.”

The cathedral has hosted scores of foreign leaders and celebrities over the years.

One carefully coiffed elderly woman in the waiting crowd, who described herself as a longtime resident of the neighborhood, said, “I’ve seen the Queen mother, Elizabeth, Margaret and Lord Snowden. I’ve seen Desmond Tutu and President and Mrs. Reagan.”

Sunday’s crowd, she added, was the biggest she had seen at the cathedral for a celebrity.

At the front of the waiting line of curious, would-be worshipers were a dozen young women from Trinity College in northwest Washington who said they had begun their wait at 3:30 a.m.

“This is just something spontaneous to do in college,” said Rossana Jacquinto, 19, of Bronxville, N.Y.

Article extracted from this publication >>  November 15, 1985