Diana, the one guest Harry wishes he could in­vite

DIANA, MOTHER OF THE GROOM, HAS MISSED MANY MILE­STONES BUT THIS IS A BIG ONE, WRITES ANNETTE SHARP

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - HARRY & MEGHAN -

As a Cap­tain Gen­eral of the Royal Marines, the prince wore his full uni­form and medals, just like his brother Prince Wil­liam did for his 2011 nup­tials to Kate Mid­dle­ton.

WHEN asked to de­scribe the en­dur­ing pain he and brother Wil­liam felt 20 years af­ter los­ing their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry did not mince words.

“It’s still raw,” he told a doc­u­men­tary film­maker last year on the 20th an­niver­sary of Diana’s death. He added: “It’s in­cred­i­bly hard. I’ll have to sort of deal with that for the rest of my life.”

Yes­ter­day he dealt with it in his mar­riage to Meghan Markle by hon­our­ing his mother in count­less ways through the day.

He has in­vited her fam­ily, the Spencers — in­clud­ing provoca­tive Un­cle Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, who once de­clared him­self the “pro­tec­tor of the princes” — to at­tend the wed­ding. He has asked Diana’s sis­ter Lady Jane Fel­lowes to present a read­ing. Diana was just 36 — three years older than Harry is now — when she died of in­juries sus­tained in a shock­ing car ac­ci­dent on a Paris mo­tor­way in 1997.

Harry was 12 at the time, his brother Wil­liam, 15 — both only boys un­able to process the im­mense in­ter­na­tional out­pour­ing of grief that fol­lowed.

Had she sur­vived the ac­ci­dent, Diana, proud mother of the prince who to­day is con­sid­ered the royal fam­ily’s most pop­u­lar mem­ber, would have been a youth­ful 56 — still young and cap­ti­vat­ing enough for cam­eras

to be trained on her on this rarest of days, a pub­lic com­ing to­gether of Wind­sor and Spencer clans.

Her every know­ing smile and cheeky jape at St Ge­orge’s Chapel, the venue that hosted Harry’s chris­ten­ing in 1984, would have been recorded for pub­lic con­sump­tion.

In life, the fash­ion-lov­ing princess held the ti­tle of most pho­tographed wo­man on the planet. The pub­lic’s fas­ci­na­tion with her style and beauty was bound­less.

In death, the le­gend of Diana, the “Peo­ple’s Princess”, royal out­cast, has grown, cre­at­ing a pall the royal fam­ily has learned to live with.

In­trigue sur­round­ing her un­timely and ghastly death may have fanned the le­gend but to her sons she re­mains some­thing more il­lu­sive, their ir­re­place­able “mummy”.

Diana has been ab­sent from the most im­por­tant mile­stones in her sons’ lives. She missed their first clumsy foray into dat­ing, their fall­ing in love, their grow­ing into man­hood, their strug­gle to find rel­e­vance in a fam­ily that many be­lieve no longer has any, their wed­dings and el­dest son Wil­liam be­com­ing a fa­ther.

Speak­ing of his own en­dur­ing grief, Wil­liam last year noted that had Diana lived to be grand­mother to his children with Kate Mid­dle­ton “…she’d love the children to bits”.

Sadly Wil­liam and Harry’s children will never know the love of the ad­ven­tur­ous, play­ful grand­mother Diana might have been, while their wives, Kate and Meghan, will miss the ben­e­fits of hav­ing her as a mother-in-law, a role she might have en­joyed.

Though she never mas­tered them her­self, Diana knew some­thing of the sur­vival skills needed to find one’s place in what Prince Philip once called “The Firm”, the fore­bod­ing royal fam­ily. She could have proven a use­ful coach and ally to Kate and Meghan. But per­haps her great­est legacy to her sons will be the ex­am­ple of her own failed mar­riage.

Hav­ing seen first hand the dis­as­trous match Charles and Diana made for them­selves — the mar­riage ended af­ter 11 years in 1992 when the boys were seven and 10 — Harry and Wil­liam have picked wives who would have once tested ortho­dox royal mar­i­tal con­ven­tion.

Diana was only 20 when she mar­ried 32-year-old Charles and, despite her aris­to­cratic back­ground, the cou­ple hardly knew one an­other. She soon top­pled into depression in a love­less union.

In con­trast Wil­liam spent a decade get­ting to know his fu­ture wife Kate, eight of those in courtship. He was 28 when he mar­ried, his bride 29.

Harry, too, has taken his time choos­ing a bride. Though they’ve only known each other two years, Harry has looked for ma­tu­rity and world­li­ness in his match, qual­i­ties Diana did not pos­sess when she mar­ried Charles.

Like Kate, Meghan, at 36, is also older than Harry, 33 — an ex­am­ple set by Prince Charles, 69, and his sec­ond wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, 70. Amer­i­can di­vorcee Meghan bucks all royal con­ven­tion con­cern­ing princess brides — older, Amer­i­can, di­vorced — prov­ing that even the Queen has learned her lessons from Diana, whose ghost still hangs large over the royal fam­ily and its de­scen­dants.

Meghan has been bap­tised and con­firmed in the Church of Eng­land by

the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury to al­low the wed­ding to go ahead.

A young Prince Harry leads Wil­liam on a pony and mum Diana around the pad­docks at High­grove. Pic­ture: Tim Gra­ham/Getty Im­ages C’MON MUMMY

ALL SMILES Diana with her two boys on a ski hol­i­day in Austria in 1993. Pic­ture: Getty

The young fam­ily on va­ca­tion. BLONDE AM­BI­TION

Diana herds the boys into Wetherby School. SCHOOL’S IN

Harry sticks out his tongue dur­ing a balcony ap­pear­ance at Buck­ing­ham Palace. Pic­ture: Tim Gra­ham/Getty Im­ages FULL OF CHEEK

POR­TRAIT OF A LADY An of­fi­cial 1984 por­trait of Diana, Wil­liam and baby Harry.

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