With the anniversary of Princess Diana‘s death a week away, we’re hearing more about that terrible day from Prince Harry and Prince William. And, 20 years later, it’s just as awful. Harry previously recalled that brutal day of walking behind his mother’s coffin at the age of 12, and saying no child “should be asked to do that.” But he’s changed his tune and told the BBC that “looking back on it,” he’s glad to have been part of that day.
Hindsight is a funny thing, isn’t it? Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said Harry’s change in tone over the lengthy procession behind his mother’s coffin comes at the realization that his involvement may have helped so many people at the time.
“He is glad he did something — even if it didn’t help him at the time — that clearly brought a tremendous comfort to the millions that were watching,” Fitzwilliams told the BBC. “The fact they were there, there’s no question that helped others.”
William, on the other hand, said that walking behind his mother’s coffin was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.” In the documentary Diana, 7 Days, he described it as a “very long, lonely walk” and recalled using his bangs as a “safety blanket,” protecting him from the public.
“I felt if I looked at the floor and my hair came down over my face, no one could see me,” he said, adding that the procession “wasn’t an easy decision and it was a sort of collective family decision to do that.”
He continued: “There is that balance between duty and family and that’s what we had to do, between me being Prince William and having to do my bit, versus the private William who just wanted to go into a room and cry.”
William and Harry were joined by their father, Prince Charles, grandfather, Prince Philip, and uncle and Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, in the procession through London.
August 31, 1997. Most people still remember where they were or how they reacted upon first hearing the shocking, devastating news. We can’t even imagine what Harry and William are dealing with as the anniversary approaches, much less what it was like when they were 12 and 15. While many will be remembering Diana and how she lived and, unfortunately, how she died, we’ll also be keeping her sons in our thoughts.