Royal family no-shows at Hillary funeral

Jan. 18, 2008 at 1:42 PM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- No member of the British royal family plans to attend the state funeral in New Zealand for Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to scale Mount Everest.

Buckingham Palace announced that Hillary's family has been offered a memorial service in April in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, where he would be honored as a knight of the Order of the Garter, the Dominion Post reported. Governor-General Anand Satyanand will represent Queen Elizabeth II at the funeral.

Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, his Sherpa guide, reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, a few days before the queen's coronation. The conquest by a British expedition was acclaimed as a triumph for Britain.

The palace cited the inflexible schedules of the queen, Prince Charles and other top royals. They usually attend the funerals of heads of state in their official capacity.

The queen released a statement saying she was "personally saddened" by Hillary's death. She has also written a personal note of condolence to his wife, Lady June Hillary.

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