Her life, her death and the twenty years in between. The heartbreaking words of Prince William and Prince Harry provide a new glimpse into the lost fairytale of Diana, Princess of Wales.
It’s been twenty years since Princess Diana met her untimely end in a Paris road tunnel. Two decades since the world watched William and Harry, barely teenagers, walk behind their mother’s casket into Westminster Abbey. Elton John sang Candle in the Wind and the world wept at the loss of a princess that belonged to the people.
Princess Diana was many things. A monarch who traveled the world in famous jewels and gorgeous gowns, a devoted mother who challenged the royal system of parenting and a woman whose charitable heart drew her to embrace the poor, the sick and the homeless. And perhaps most remarkably, in her short 36 years on this earth she managed to make a real difference in the lives of many, as many personal demons haunted her behind closed doors.
Living Like Diana
Although Diana’s struggles and scandals are often the most talked about part of her life, she was much more than the sum of her troubles. And there is no better example of that than her now grown princes, William and Harry, who are using this sad anniversary as an opportunity to remind the world of all the good their late mum possessed.
The royal brothers recently presented 20 youths from around the globe with the inaugural Legacy Award which recognizes those who embody and exemplify Diana’s values.
The ceremony took place at St. James Palace and in a moving speech Prince Harry, 32, revealed one the greatest lessons his mother taught him.
“One of the things our mother taught William and I was the value of doing good when no one was watching,” as he went on to reference her late night visits to hospitals and many private letters she wrote to those who were struggling.
Prince William also gushed about his mother, remembering the causes she championed and reflecting on what other extraordinary things she may done had she lived.
“She achieved so much in her life. From helping to shatter the stigma around AIDS, to fighting to ban landmines and supporting the homeless- she touched the lives of millions. The truth is though, that she was taken at only 36, just slightly older than I am today. We can never know what our mother would have gone on to do. But in one sense Harry and I feel that our mother lives on in the countless acts of compassion and bravery that she inspires in others.”
The Last Call
The somber 20 year anniversary of Diana’s death has also inspired Princes William and Harry to finally let the world into their private life with Diana. From never before seen photographs to their last phone conversation with her just hours before hear death, the princes open up like never before in the new documentary Diana, our Mother: Her Life and Legacy.
During the documentary both princes heartbreakingly speak of the last time they spoke to Diana, which has left them with lifelong regret.
“I can’t necessarily remember what I said, but all I do remember is regretting for the rest of my life how short that last phone call was,” Harry sadly reveals. “If I had known 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.”
Prince William also joins Harry in that haunting regret as he recalls the normal childhood things they were doing that fateful day back in 1997.
Diana’s Last Hours
“We had been running around minding our own business, playing with our cousins and having a very good time and were in a rush to say ‘goodbye, see you later.’ If I’d know what was going to happen I wouldn’t have been quite so blasé about it. That phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily.”
Despite the pain of remembering Diana’s last hours and the sting of many ‘what ifs’, both young royals agree that 20 years after that tragic day, it’s time to speak out.
“There’s not many days that go by that I don’t think of her,” Prince William says. “Her 20th anniversary year feels like a good time to, you know, remember all the good things about her and hopefully provide a different side to her that others haven’t seen before.”
A Kid at Heart
To reflect on happier times, the princes share never before seen family photographs of their childhood with Diana, as Harry adorably admits that his mum really was a “kid” at heart. “When everybody says to me, you know, she was fun, give us an example, all I can hear is her laugh in my head. And that sort of crazy laugh of where there was just pure happiness shown on her face.”
Prince William also shares a rare glimpse into his life with Kate and the children. He explains that he speaks to Prince George and Princess Charlotte every night about Diana so that they know about the unseen grandmother in their lives.
Legacy of Love
Prince William goes on to joke about Diana’s playful nature and what kind of grandmother he believes she would have been.
“She’d love the children to bits but she’d also be a nightmare. She’d probably come in at bath time, cause an amazing scene, bubbles everywhere, water all over the place, and leave!”
This new transparency that the princes have shown is what Diana’s adoring public have been waiting for since her death. And it has answered one the biggest questions that has loomed for twenty years; what is Diana’s Legacy? It comes as no surprise that she inspired good deeds in others but the kindness her sons have continued to show in her absence and the strong bond they share is proof that her greatest achievement is her boys.
She lived her life like a candle in the wind, and twenty years later that candle continues to light up the world through the people she loved the most.