LONDON, Aug 23 — In a BBC documentary to be broadcast on Sunday, Princes William and Harry open up about the tumultuous seven days following the death of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
Aides have told media that Diana, 7 Days will be the first and last time that the princes will speak about their mother’s death in such intimate detail.
It is understood that the princes are keen to concentrate on honouring her legacy rather than talk about the past.
The 90-minute documentary marks the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death and tells the behind-the-scenes story of the week before her funeral.
It features some of the major figures at the time including former prime minister Tony Blair, senior royal aides and Diana’s family.
The documentary, made by US director Henry Singer, sees the princes speak with raw honesty about their emotions at the time.
Here are seven things that we will learn from the documentary for the first time:
1. Harry is “very glad” he joined the funeral cortege for his mother
Harry had previously said walking behind her coffin aged 12 was something no child “should be asked to do”. He has now told the BBC he doesn’t “have an opinion whether that was right or wrong”, but “looking back on it”, he is glad to have been part of the day.
2. “Walking behind [Diana’s] coffin was “one of the hardest things [William has] ever done.”
The prince who was 15 recalled using his fringe as a “safety blanket” during the “very long, lonely walk”. “I felt if I looked at the floor and my hair came down over my face, no-one could see me,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy decision and it was a sort of collective family decision to do that... there is that balance between duty and family and that’s what we had to do.”
The balance, he added, was “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, who’d lost his mother”.
3. The brothers pay tribute to their father Prince Charles for trying to comfort them in the aftermath of Diana’s death
Harry told the documentary: “One of the hardest things for a parent to have to do is to tell your children that your other parent has died.
“But he was there for us, he was the one out of two left and he tried to do his best and to make sure we were protected and looked after.
“But, you know, he was going through the same grieving process as well.”
4. William and Harry’s reaction to the news of their mother’s death
Harry said his reaction to being told the news was one of “disbelief”, and there was “no sudden outpouring of grief”.
William, on the other hand, said he was “disorientated, dizzy and very confused”. He added: “I remember just feeling completely numb. And you keep asking yourself ‘why me?’ all the time. ‘What have I done?’”
5. Their thoughts on the public backlash that Queen Elizabeth II received
“I think it was a very hard decision for my grandmother to make. She felt very torn between being a grandmother to William and Harry and her Queen role,” William said.
6. William and Harry admit to being shocked and bewildered at the “peculiar” scale of public mourning
Harry on their return to London from Scotland: “People were grabbing us and pulling us into their arms and stuff. I don’t blame anyone for that, of course I don’t. But it was those moments that were quite shocking. People were screaming, people were crying, people’s hands were wet because of the tears they had just wiped away from their faces before shaking my hand.”
7. The behaviour of the paparazzi at the scene of the accident still angers them
In the documentary, Harry said he finds it hard to come to terms with the behaviour of paparazzi who took pictures as his mother lay injured:
“I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people that chased her through into the tunnel were the same people that were taking photographs of her, while she was still dying on the back seat of the car.
“She’d had a... quite a severe head injury, but she was very much still alive on the back seat, and those people that... that caused the accident, instead of helping, were taking photographs of her dying on the back seat. And then those photographs made... made their way back to news desks in this country.”