Diana, as seen through the eyes of her sons
William and Harry on why they’ve decided to share their personal family photos for the first time Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy MONDAY / ITV / 9.00PM
After the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997, a stunned nation mourned the passing of one of the most famous women in the world, while her sons, William and Harry, then just 15 and 12, were grief-stricken at the loss of their beloved mum.
This week, to mark the forthcoming 20th anniversary of her death, ITV’S documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy sees the princes give a heart-rending interview about the impact she had on them.
‘This is the first time the two of us have ever spoken about her as a mother,’ says
Prince Harry, 32. ‘She was the best mum in the world. She smothered us with love, that’s for sure.’
The deep bond between Diana and her sons is evident in the never-before-seen personal family photographs that William and Harry share in the documentary, along with their recollections of the fun they experienced with her.
There’s a touching moment where William studies a picture of his mum holding him as a young boy and says to Harry: ‘Believe it or not, you and I are both in this photo – you’re in the tummy!’
Diana famously took her sons to a theme park for a day out in 1993, with all three laughing as they were drenched on a log flume ride. It was symbolic of the way Diana wanted her boys to enjoy as normal an upbringing as possible, and William, 35, says that his mother had a mischievous spirit. ‘She was very informal and really enjoyed laughter and fun,’ he reveals. ‘But she understood that there was a real life outside the Palace walls.’
The princes recall their mother’s love of playing practical jokes on them
– ‘She was such a naughty parent,’ says Harry – but they also speak powerfully about her death and how they processed their grief. ‘They talk about how she gave them the tools they needed to cope with anything that life threw at them,’ says the documentary’s producer Ashley Gething.
‘They still feel her presence and her love, but there’s also this hole in their lives,’
Ashley continues. ‘You see them remembering things that they hadn’t thought about for a long time and the pain of that comes through on screen.’
William is determined that his mother remains a part of his children’s lives. ‘The
prince really tries to keep her memory alive for them,’ says Ashley. ‘He talks on camera about the grandmother he thinks she would have been, and it’s very sweet and poignant, too.
‘As we followed them doing their charity work, we could see that they have inherited different traits from her. William has her ability to listen and sensitivity, while Harry has her spontaneity, fun and silliness in spades.’
The film-makers also interviewed her brother, Earl Spencer, her staff, some of her oldest friends,
and members of the public who were touched by her. ‘These are people she met in her working life, from HIV sufferers to landmine victims,’ says Ashley, who hopes the film will help explain the overwhelming public reaction to her death. ‘Hearing what she was like as a mother or a friend, or what two amputee Bosnian boys recall about meeting her, you realise this is why millions of people came out onto the streets of London after her death, because, somehow, we all understood her love.’
Family portrait: Diana and her sons in 1995
Army training: Harry, almost two, at Highgrove House in 1986 Page turner: The two princes leaf through the family album Pedal power: William in the Scilly Isles in 1989