Princess Diana and Harry with William on his first day at Eton in September 1995.
It's been nearly 20 years since Princess Diana's tragic death, and the anniversary has brought a renewed interest in her extraordinary (and sometimes scandalous) life as a royal. When Diana passed away in a car accident in August 1997, she left behind her two sons, William and Harry, who were 15 and 12, respectively, at the time. The princes have begun opening up about their mother's death in recent years and have admitted that it took time for them to feel comfortable talking about the huge loss. William told a young boy at a charity event that he was "very angry" about Diana's death and "found it very difficult to talk about."
In addition to speaking about their mother in interviews, William and Harry have taken on a number of her charities and both consider her legacy as one of the driving forces behind their philanthropic efforts. Recently, William bonded with young children who have lost their own parents, telling a little girl, "I lost my mummy when I was young, too. It's very important to talk about it." He and Harry are also erecting a memorial statue in the public gardens of Kensington Palace this year to commemorate her death and her positive impact in the UK and around the world. See more of the sweet, heartbreaking things that Harry and William have said about their late mum.
William and Harry at their mother's funeral in September 1997.
- "Time makes it easier. I still miss my mother every day — and it's 20 years after she died."
- "Twenty-one years ago, my mother attended the launch of the Child Bereavement charity. Fifteen years later, I was honored to be invited to become patron of Child Bereavement UK to continue my mother's commitment to a charity which is very dear to me. What my mother recognized back then, and what I understand now, is that grief is the most painful experience that any child or parent can endure."
- "I never realized quite how much of an impact she had. I applaud her for all her dedication and drive, and I think the infectious enthusiasm and all the energy she had really rubbed off on me for causes such as [AIDS research in Africa]."
- "Initially, there is a sense of profound shock and disbelief that this could ever happen to you. Real grief often does not hit home until much later. For many it is a grief never entirely lost. Life is altered as you know it, and not a day goes past without you thinking about the one you have lost. I know that over time it is possible to learn to live with what has happened and, with the passing of years, to retain or rediscover cherished memories."
- "Losing a close family member is one of the hardest experiences that anyone can ever endure. Never being able to say the word 'Mummy' again in your life sounds like a small thing. I too have felt — and still feel — the emptiness on such a day as Mother's Day."
- "Part of the reason why Harry and I want to do this is because we feel we owe it to her. I think an element of it is feeling like we let her down when we were younger. We couldn't protect her."
- "I am in a better place about it than I have been for a long time, where I can talk about her more openly, talk about her more honestly, and I can remember her better, and publicly talk about her better. It has taken me almost 20 years to get to that stage."
- "I still find it difficult now because at the time it was so raw. And also it is not like most people's grief, because everyone else knows about it, everyone knows the story, everyone knows her. It is a different situation for most people who lose someone they love, it can be hidden away or they can choose if they want to share their story."
- "When it came to the wedding, I did really feel that she was there. You know, there was times when you look to someone or something for strength, and I very much felt she was there for me."
- "I would like to have had her advice. I would love her to have met Catherine and to have seen the children grow up. It makes me sad that she won't, that they will never know her."
- "The very last memory I have is a phone call from Balmoral [Castle in Scotland]. At the time, Harry and I were running around, minding our own business, playing with our cousins and having a very good time. Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say 'Goodbye, see you later, can I go off?' If I'd known what was going to happen I wouldn't have been quite so blasé about it. That phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily."
- "It's hard because obviously Catherine didn't know her, so she cannot really provide that, that level of detail. I just try and remind [George and Charlotte] that there are two grandmothers, there were two grandmothers in their lives, and so it's important that they know who she was and that she existed."
- "She'd be a nightmare grandmother, absolute nightmare," William teased. "She'd love the children to bits, but she'd be an absolute nightmare. She'd come and go and she'd come in probably at bath time, cause an amazing amount of scene, bubbles everywhere, bathwater all over the place and — and then leave."
- "I want to make as much time and effort with Charlotte and George as I can because I realize that these early years particularly are crucial for children, and having seen, you know, what she did for us."
- "I never really dealt with what had actually happened. So there was a lot of buried emotion, and I still didn't even want to think about it."
- "I really regret not talking about it. It is OK to suffer, but as long as you talk about it. It is not a weakness. Weakness is having a problem and not recognizing it and not solving that problem."
- "It's a huge shame she's not here. But I hope she'd be incredibly proud of what we managed to achieve."
- "I first came [to Africa] in 1997, straight after my mum died. My dad told my brother and me to pack our bags — we were going to Africa to get away from it all."
- "We will do everything we can to make sure she's never forgotten, and carry on all of the special gifts and such that she had and that she portrayed when she was alive. I hope that a lot of my mother's talents are shown in the work that I do."
- "I hope she's looking down [at our family] with tears in her eyes being incredibly proud of what we've established. I'm sure she's longing for me to have kids so she can be a grandmother again . . . but I hope that everything we do privately and officially, that it makes her proud."
- "Losing your mother at such a young age does end up shaping your life massively, of course it does. And now I find myself trying to be there and give advice to other people who are in similar positions."
- "Every day, depending on what I'm doing, I wonder what it would be like if she was here, and what she would say, and how she would be making everybody else laugh. Who knows what the situation would be, what the world would be like, if she were still around."
- "Not to get too personal, if you lose your mum at the age of 12 then you've got to deal with it and the idea that . . . 15, 17 years later I still hadn't dealt with it, Afghan was the moment. I was like 'right — deal with it.'"
- "My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television. I don't think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don't think it would happen today."
- ""My mother died when I was very young. I didn't want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good."
- "My mother took a huge part in showing me an ordinary life, including taking me and my brother to see homeless people. Thank goodness I'm not completely cut off from reality. People would be amazed by the ordinary life William and I live."
- "I intuitively know what my mother would like me to do and want to progress with work she couldn't complete."
- "She had the most wonderful sense of humor and always wanted to make things fun for us, as well as protect us."
- "I think it's never going to be easy for the two of us to talk about our mother, but 20 years on seems like a good time to remind people of the difference that she made not just to the royal family, but also to the world."
- "I can't necessarily remember what I said but all I do remember is regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was. If I'd known that that was the last time I was going to speak to my mother, the things I would have said to her. Looking back at it now — it's incredibly hard. I have to deal with that for the rest of my life: not knowing that it was the last time I'd speak to my mum, how differently that conversation would have panned out if I'd had even the slightest inkling that her life was going to be taken that night."