Prince William and Prince Harry have opened up about the days that immediately followed the death of their mother Princess Diana, admitting it was a bewildering, and sometimes frightening experience. The two brothers spoke with heartbreaking honesty about the aftermath of the 31 August, 1997 tragedy for the first – and last time – in a new BBC documentary to be shown on Sunday night, Diana, 7 Days. Both Princes praised their father, Prince Charles, for his support as they grieved.
"One of the hardest things for a parent to have to do is to tell your children that your other parent has died," Harry said. "How you deal with that, I don't know. But, you know, he was there for us. He was the one out of two left and he tried his best to make sure we were protected and looked after. But, you know, he was going through the same grieving as well."
William and Harry praised their father Prince Charles for his support as they grieved
Prince William also spoke about the Queen's decision to keep her grandsons at Balmoral following Diana's death – something for which she weathered heavy public criticism. "I don't think anyone, even my grandmother, had seen anything like this before," the Duke said. "I think all of us were on new territory.
"But for Harry and I, my grandmother and father believed we were better served at Balmoral, having the walks and the space and peace to be with family and not be immersed having to deal with serious decisions or worries straight away. I think it was a very hard decision for my grandmother to make. She felt very torn between being a grandmother and her Queen role." Diana's sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, said she also agreed with the monarch's decision: "She absolutely did the right thing. If I was her, I would have done that."
The Princes look at floral tributes to Diana outside Kensington Palace
In contrast to the haven of Balmoral, London became a city in mourning, with members of the public taking to the streets in tears. The outpouring of grief was something that surprised William and Harry, with the Duke admitting that he often wondered of the weeping members of public: "You didn’t even know her, why and how are you so upset?"
He said: "What was very peculiar but obviously very touching was everybody crying. The wailing and crying and people wanting to touch us… I was 15 and Harry was 12. It was like nothing you can really describe, it was very unusual. There were shouting and literally wailing at us, throwing flowers, yelling, sobbing, breaking down, people fainted, collapsed."
Of his mother's funeral procession, William, 35, added: "I couldn't understand why everyone wanted to cry as loud as they did, and show such emotion as they did when they didn't really know our mother. I did feel a bit protective at times about her. I was like, 'You didn't even know her. Why and how are you so upset?' Now, looking back, over the last few years I've learned to understand what it was she gave the world and a lot of people."
Diana, 7 Days – Sunday 27th August, 7.30pm on BBC One