Prince Harry: There were arguments behind-the-scenes at Diana’s funeral

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Prince Harry’s Spare apparently begins his story with his mother’s death in 1997. I’ve already seen some excerpted quotes about how his father woke him up and woke William up that night to tell them that Diana had died in Paris. From Spare:

“[Dad] sat down on the edge of the bed. He put a hand on my knee. ‘Darling boy, Mummy’s been in a car crash.’ I remember thinking: Crash … OK. But she’s all right? Yes? I vividly remember that thought flashing through my mind. And I remember waiting patiently for Pa to confirm that indeed Mummy was all right. And I remember him not doing that.” Harry explains that he then began to feel a “shift internally” when he knew what was coming next. “I began silently pleading with Pa, or God, or both: No, no, no,” he shares.

“Pa didn’t hug me. He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances, how could he be expected to show them in such a crisis? His hand did fall once more on my knee and he said, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ That was quite a lot for him. Fatherly, hopeful, kind. And so very untrue.”

“’Mummy was quite badly injured and taken to hospital, darling boy,’” Charles said, per Harry. “He always called me ‘darling boy,’ but he was saying it quite a lot now. His voice was soft. He was in shock, it seemed.” Harry recounts still believing that doctors could somehow “fix her head,” and that he’d be able to see her “tonight at the latest.”

“‘They tried, darling boy. I’m afraid she didn’t make it,’” Harry remembers his father telling him. “These phrases remain in my mind like darts in a board. He did say it that way, I know that much for sure. She didn’t make it. And then everything seemed to come to a stop.”

[From Page Six]

I will be curious to see if Harry also discusses being stuck in Balmoral that week and no one even talking about Diana. Philip took them hunting, and Charles called Tiggy and asked her to come up. The family forced Diana’s sons to shut down emotionally and just think about other things. The Queen wouldn’t even allow the local vicar to say a special prayer for Diana. Harry does talk about how odd it was to be put on display once they were back in London, especially the walkabout outside of Kensington Palace, where William and Harry were expected to go out and greet mourners. Harry also writes that his uncle Charles (the Earl Spencer) was incandescent about the Windsors forcing the boys to walk behind Diana’s casket.

From Harry’s ITV interview: “I cried once, at the burial, and you know I go into detail about how strange it was and how, actually, there was some guilt that I felt, and I think William felt as well, by walking around the outside of Kensington Palace. There were 50,000 bouquets of flowers to our mother, and there we were shaking people’s hands, smiling. I’ve seen the videos, right, I looked back over it all. And the wet hands that we were shaking, we couldn’t understand why their hands were wet, but it was all the tears that they were wiping away. Everyone thought, and felt like, they knew our mum, and the two closest people to her, the two most loved people by her, were unable to show any emotion in that moment.”

From ‘Spare’: “I disliked the touch of those hands. What’s more, I disliked how they made me feel: guilty. Why was there all that crying from people, when I neither cried nor had cried? I wanted to cry, and I had tried because my mother’s life had been so sad… but I couldn’t… not a drop. Perhaps I had learnt too well, had absorbed too thoroughly the family maxim that crying was never an option – never.”

Diana’s funeral, from ‘Spare’: The plan drawn up by palace officials was for the coffin to be carried on a gun carriage, drawn by the King’s Troop, the Royal Horse Artillery, with Princes William and Harry following on foot. Harry writes in the book that “It seemed like a lot to ask for two children”, adding: “Several adults were horrified”. The Duke claims that his uncle Charles, Earl Spencer, “flew into a rage”, saying: “You cannot force these children to walk behind their mother’s coffin. It’s a barbarity!” His reaction at the meeting appeared to echo that of some who later witnessed the funeral cortege and felt too much pressure had been placed on the young Princes’ shoulders. However when a suggestion was made at the meeting that William, as the eldest, should walk behind the coffin alone Prince Harry says he objected, saying: “It didn’t seem right that Willy would have such a hard time without me.”

[From The Telegraph]

No. They acted like there were only two options: put William behind the coffin or put both of Diana’s sons behind her coffin. There was always the option of protecting the boys and not forcing them to go out on display just days after their mother’s death. QEII and Charles were scared sh-tless and they used two grief-stricken children as human shields. As I’ve said before, Liz and Charles should rot for that alone, nevermind all of the other bulls-t. Although it does seem like Harry still has sympathy for Charles in that situation. Generational trauma.

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72 Responses to “Prince Harry: There were arguments behind-the-scenes at Diana’s funeral”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    Those boys walking only benefited the royals – especially Charles – and its just so disgusting that they were used in a such a way on one of the worst days of their lives.

    • SomeChick says:

      I totally agree. I’m comforted a bit by hearing that the Earl Spencer strenuously objected to it. at least someone was speaking up for them.

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      I remember the days after Diana’s death so vividly. The RF were totally unprepared for the outpouring of grief which turned to anger against the queen and in particular Charles and Camilla. Charles was reportedly worried he might be stoned or egged and one of his spin doctors suggested putting the boys in the procession. I remember Tony Blair’s spin doctor also saving them from themselves as he was horrified by their first instinct of hiding away despite repeated calls from the papers and people to come down to London. I know they were in Balmoral at the time of Diana’s accident but still.

    • Eleonor says:

      I remember my mum watching them and repeating “those poor children”.
      They were used like human shields.

  2. Layla says:

    The palace’s “strategy” really does seem to be forcefully shoving their children under people’s noses these. I’ve been seeing that apparently the W are planning to trot their children with them on their next engagement (tomorrow apparently 😂). So predictable my goodness

  3. blue says:

    Forcing grief-stricken children into a public display was bizarre and cruel.

    • kelleybelle says:

      Charles is a bizarre and cruel person, and apparently queenie was too. She didn’t even want to lower the flag to half-mast. Zero respect for her. Absolutely zero.

      • Carty says:

        I still think the RF had her ‘removed’ and made to look like an accident. I have to think Harry’s gone over that in his mind too, given the treatment he’s got for marrying Meghan.

  4. Tessa says:

    I found it weird that the boys were sent out to stalk animals during that week. The worst wad the queen not having prayers read for Diana.

    • Tessa says:


      • Visa Diva says:

        @tessa I think about this as they were trying to keep the kids busy while adults worked on stuff and hunting is what they do at Balmoral.
        When my grandmother died in my house (mom was her caregiver) , a friend of mine and her family took me in for the day and overnight so my mom and my uncle could work on the funeral and get this hospital equipment out of the house. There’s nuance in that we knew my grandmother was it wasn’t massive shock, but being able to focus on other stuff for a while was helpful for me as a 12 year old.
        It doesn’t excuse the BRF’s other actions at the time, but I can understand a bit of what their thinking may have been about this.

    • QuiteContrary says:

      Then they listened as Diana’s brother — correctly — compared Diana to hunted prey in his eulogy. It seems that only Harry absorbed that lesson.

    • Sms says:

      It’s strange what helps. After a death in the family friends took me apple picking. Being outside was a blessing after weeks of hospital visits. I don’t like hunting but can vouch for the fresh air and sunshine.

    • Denise says:

      I agree, I think most adults would try a combination of talking to the kids and distracting the kids. So the fact that they went hunting, their usual activity while in Balmoral, didn’t strike me as odd.

      The Queen forbidding/denying the Pastor/Vicar from saying a special prayer was short-sided at best and cold-hearted at worst.

  5. Rapunzel says:

    Charles is awful. So was Betty. Betty’s last few years were nothing but her house crumbling before her. Charles has aged so terribly (these pics shocked me- he was so much better looking), and his long desired reign has been miserable.

    Karma is inescapable.

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      It was always predicted that he would have a short and unhappy reign. The rot started way before him and it will continue unless someone in that family decides to break the cycle. That’s what H is trying to do.

  6. Tarte au Citron says:

    I didn’t know the Queen forbade the vicar from saying a prayer for Diana. WOW. That’s cruel & petty AF.

    IIRC, there was some back-and-forth in the media back then about whether the boys should be in the process or not. Betty either didn’t want to do anything or she had to be talked into it by the media.

    • Jan90067 says:

      I remember something about Charles feeling he would get shouted at and have things thrown at him, so the boys were added as “protection” against that.

    • Becks1 says:

      so I’ve read a few different versions of that; one is that its not common in the Church of Scotland for a prayer to be said in that kind of situation in the middle of a regular church service. The other is that the queen asked him not to because she thought it would be too much for the boys to handle.

      Another story is that after they left the church harry asked if she was really dead bc of the lack of prayer, so it seemed that whatever the rationale, it was the wrong choice.

      • Rae S-L says:

        @BECKS1 I know in the Anglican community that prayers are said for the sick and the dying, the recently departed during intercessions, so Church of Scotland should not be any different. Even Methodist and Presbyterian churches do such prayers. I do not buy that for one moment a small prayer could not have been said. I was 17 at the time Diana was killed, and I remembered how heartless the queen’s behaviour was, e.g. dragging Harry and William out to church, hours after their mother had died, refusing to lower the flag at Buck House to half mast, refusing to give her a ceremonial funeral. She was cruel IMO. I do not beleive she was the nice fluffy old lady we were presented with.

        Interestingly, I thought if the opportunity had been presented to become a Republic that week, it would have happened. It also showed how disfunctionional the RF was, but through their PR, i.e. certain tabloids and broadsheets, they gave that veneer of having learnt lessons, especially where Diana was concerned, but that was blown apart when Meghan came along.

      • Fortuona says:

        Rae S-L

        They dont have prayers like that in the CoS AT ALL (they only started Christmas services 50 years ago ) . Its is not Methodist but strict Reformed Presbytarian


        It is not a private chapel is is Crathie Kirk a regular Church of Scotland Kirk

        This is a long standing row in the CoS since Vic was in charge and she was told follow the rules or take yourself to Aberdeen where there are Episcopal Churches . So they follow the CoS where they can be members but in is a different Church which came up as Charles had to swear to keep in its indepenent

        Last King who tried that left missing a head . Thatcher got ripped apart because
        thought is was the CoE North

      • Fortuona says:

        Rae S-L

        It is not a Anglican Church it is verrry diffferent – really not Anglo-Catholic. We have an Episcopal Church but it in seperate . We did not celebrate Christmas until the 1960’s all the gifts were a Ne’erday thing

        See Charles I and how he lost his head after trying to turn in into Anglican North


        It is just a local CoS Kirk there is no private chapel at Balmoral and Victoria was told go to Aberdeen ii that is what you want to practice

    • Ladiabla says:

      I always thought that not having prayers said for Diana in a private family chapel at Balmoral was some of the coldest shit I’ve ever heard. If the boys broke down and cried, at least it would be in front of their family, who could comfort them. I guess they really don’t do that. I can even understand not crying in public, but not allowing them a private moment to grieve openly? Such a mistake on the queen’s part, a woman who “supposedly” took her faith seriously.

  7. Lizzie says:

    Am I misremembering? I thought it was Philip who pushed the boys to walk behind their mother and asked if it helped if he walked with them?

    • AnneL says:

      I think the decision was made by the family, of which Philip was a part. I don’t believe it was his idea but he did agree to it. When the boys seemed hesitant and Earl Spencer objected, etc., he tried to make it easier on them by offering to walk with them.

      I don’t really blame this on Philip. Yes, he should have objected too but his wife and son were more in charge than he was. Or at least they should have been. Charles was their father and Elizabeth the monarch, after all.

      I think Philip tried to help and show solidarity. He had to walk in his own sister’s funeral procession when he was a boy, as I recall? It seems like it was quite traumatic. She had been killed in a plane crash with her family. Her husband was a German Prince so there were Nazi flags everywhere. It was one of the most powerful scenes in The Crown, for me. I think it was the first season.

      • Ameerah M says:

        Phillip was the head of that family. Not QE. This has been talked about for years. Phillip was the one who called a lot of the shots in regards to the family itself.

    • Jenna says:

      Philip talked the boys into walking by saying, “If you walk, I will walk with you.”
      So, supportive and manipulative.

    • AnneL says:

      So based on what Ameerah said, Philip as head of the family probably did make the decision for them to walk. I stand corrected.

      He was Old School. His childhood was tough and he expected that of his son and grandsons to be that way too I guess. He went to Gordonston, Charles had to go there. He walked behind his sister’s coffin, Will and Harry had to walk behind Diana’s.

      I don’t like his way of handling things. I just always thought Philip seemed less obtuse than his wife.

  8. Little Red says:

    I remember Earl Spencer’s eulogy at Diana’s funeral and it was rather excoriating if I remember correctly. Glad to read that he saw this idea as the barbarity it was.

    • AnneL says:

      Yes, it was. I was actually kind of shocked by that. I didn’t follow Diana when she was alive really, but I did watch her funeral and I remember that. I remember the boys walking, all the flowers and people, the music, and Earl Spencer’s eulogy.

      What I note in the clips of the walk-about is that Will is smiling as he shakes hands, in a polite sort of way, not happy, but still turning it on for the people. Harry is trying but he mostly just looks shell shocked. They were not that far apart in age, but at that stage of life a couple of years makes a huge difference.

    • Amy Bee says:

      In my opinion the eulogy was performative. Charles Spencer is one of the most effusive royalists today.

      • Little Red says:

        Not surprising. I guess that explains why William tried to enlist his help in persuading Harry to not marry Meghan.

      • Milo's Mom says:

        Agree, guilt on his part too for not allowing Diana stay at Althorp after her divorce. She begged for a safe haven and was rejected by her own brother. Ba***rd.

      • Blue Nails Betty says:

        Earl Spencer was and still is a jerk. However, at that moment in time he was genuinely livid at how the royals handled the situation and he genuinely believed, as did millions of people all over the world, that Charles was somehow involved in the death of Diana.

        Both emotions and rumors were off the charts. This was the first major death of the internet age and the internet’s speed created a firestorm of the actions/inactions surrounding the situation.

        His speech (not even a eulogy, it was a damnation!) was blunt, brutal, and pointed because he was in a terrifying vortex of raw emotions. It’s easy to see him now and say the speech wasn’t genuine but at the time it was given he seriously meant every word of it.

      • Rnot says:

        A lot of that anger was redirected guilt for having turned her away when she asked to move back to the family estate with its many unused homes. He didn’t want the drama and publicity nearby. He let her down and then she died.

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        Milo’s Mom, I’ve read that Earl Spencer sued a tabloid over that story and won. When Diana wanted to move to Althorp, he agreed. He didn’t want her to live in the house/cottage that she chose, because he believed the press could still get at her and would cause problems, so he chose a different place at Althrop for her to live. She refused.

        It’s interesting that the story continues to be told wrongly after all of this time and after the lawsuit. This shows you the power of disinformation.

      • C says:

        Earl Spencer is the one who posted pictures of the food fair at Althorp around the time of the wedding with cake statues of Harry and Meghan. The Meghan statue had a bowl of watermelon in front of it. Even when notified of the connotation he didn’t delete it. That and his messy personal life and yes how he turned Diana away. He’s not that great of a guy.

      • Christine says:

        I agree.

      • Matilde says:

        It’s an open secret that the eulogy was written by Edward St Aubyn and not Earl Spencer. He should receive zero credit (although he read it well).

  9. Maida says:

    Everything I learn about the BRF makes it more clear just how damaging it has been to everyone in it. Having to shut down emotionally and “carry on” carries a huge price. The whole institution seems barbaric to me.

    • harpervalleypta says:

      Over the holidays, I read a biography of Queen Mary.

      One of the anecdotes near the end: Princess Margaret’s parents were going off on a ship for a long tour, and Queen Mary was standing on the shore with a very young Princess Margaret to wave goodbye. Margaret apparently said, I have my handkerchief! And Queen Mary replied: Only for waving, never for crying.

      Generations! This has been going on for generations in that family!

      • Maida says:

        Yes, can’t imagine what having that kind of attitude drilled into you as a child does to a person, cumulatively. We’re now seeing the consequences in the current BRF.

  10. molly says:

    I’ll forever feel sympathy for Will and Harry for what they were made to do after the death of their mother. My god they were CHILDREN.

    I can give Charles a pass on what he did or said while breaking the news (no one prepares for a task like that), but everything he and the queen did in name of self-preservation in the days that followed was unforgivable.

    • AnneL says:

      I give Charles a pass for how he broke the news, yes. He did the best he could it seems. The funeral on the other hand? What a bastard.

      • AMA1977 says:

        I just…as a mother to a 15 year-old boy, my heart aches for both of those children. To imagine my son having to process in the open air behind my coffin after my sudden, tragic accidental death is too much to bear. He would be broken. 15 is still a boy, not close to an adult. 12 is barely out of elementary school.

        That family is toxic to the extreme and they eat their young. I know William is a terrible person now, but really, with that upbringing and those expectations and the role imposed upon him from birth, without the intercession that an emotionally intelligent mother could have made had she lived, can you expect any different?

        Harry is remarkable for the work he has done to heal. He’s the only one in the whole bunch who seems remotely human.

  11. Harper says:

    I have zero sympathy for Charles. If he is that afraid of being egged or stoned, then ride in a car to the church. The Queen, Philip and Charles chose their precious pomp and pageantry over what was best for the boys. No one was required to march that day, but the Firm is obsessed with its parades. Birthday parades, wedding parades, death parades. It would have been much more soothing to see William and Harry in the car with the Queen and Philip that day. No one wanted to see them walking.

    • ThatsNotOkay says:

      Oh, no! Eggs?! Not eggs!!!

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      Harper, that was many years ago, but I seem to remember that QE2 had no intention of having a state funeral for the DIVORCED Princess of Wales, but the people were expecting/demanding it. Under the circumstances, everyone could easily have been in vehicles. This was a choice that didn’t have to be made. I don’t think the crowds would have cared.

  12. Amy Bee says:

    I believe Harry said that what’s important to the family is how it looks as opposed to how it feels. The Royal Family used Harry and William for public approval and didn’t care about their feelings.
    They should not have been made to walk behind Diana’s coffin.

  13. Charfromdarock says:

    “Pa didn’t hug me.”

    That is heartbreaking. I mean we all know Charles is not a good father (or man) but to not be able to comfort your own child at the most terrible time in his life is inhumane.

  14. Jay says:

    One thing that stands out for me is how confusing all of these euphemisms must have been for an 11-year old. Yes, saying Diana was injured and “didn’t make it” was easier for Charles, but children need more clarity and help to process a loss, even if that’s hard for an adult to say. You have to tell them that their loved one has died, and explain what that means, and that they won’t be able to come back. They won’t be able to get closure otherwise.

    My heart breaks for this little boy, not even a hug from his own father? No wonder he gravitated towards Meghan, who is never afraid of showing affection. He’s literally “in touch” with his emotions now.

    I remember coverage of the time being absurdly proud that Diana’s sons were so stoic and and thinking that was such an odd thing to highlight.

    • Jennifer says:

      I HATE how people can’t say “died.” That’s what happened. Mealymouthing it to make them sound less dead is stupid and in this case, confusing.

    • Christine says:

      You are so right. I had the same problem when my mother died when I was 14. No one was allowed to talk about it. I had nightmares she was still alive because it hadn’t sunk in. I was not allowed to process it. You have to allow children to grapple with the death and because they have no experience with death, it takes longer.

  15. Emily_C says:

    I have always hated being hugged during fraught moments. Too much hugging forced on me to comfort others. So… yeah, I dunno. A parent should know what would most comfort their child at that time though, certainly by the time the kid is 12.

    I was phenomenally busy that year and not paying attention to anything but my own life and trying to get enough caffeine into me to keep going. I didn’t even learn that the kids had to walk behind Diana’s coffin until years later. I do remember that the queen refused to put the flag at half-mast though. I don’t understand how never showing grief is supposed to make people look like leaders. It makes them appear sociopathic.

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      Emily_C, the flag wasn’t at half-mast because C&D were divorced. I believe QE2 had a “not our family” attitude. That’s when Tony Blair, I think, called her to explain she needed to do something because the populace was expecting it of her.

      • Truthiness says:

        QE2 carried a grudge against Blair over that, a grudge she never forgave, it was mentioned in the last years of her life.

  16. RoSco says:

    Oh, wow. Harry’s loyalty in that moment – insisting that Will shouldn’t have to go through walking behind the carriage alone. Clearly neither of the kids should have been allowed (let alone asked or required) to do the walk, I’m just pointing out that Harry’s sense of loyalty and protection over his brother in such a vulnerable moment … what a setup for the rest of their lives to date.

  17. Sue says:

    My father died when I was 18. My brother drove my mother, myself and my sister behind the hearse for the funeral procession and I will never forget just staring at my dad’s coffin visible in the hearse. No amount of therapy is ever going to make me okay about it. But it’s what is done. I cannot imagine Harry or William having to walk in front of crowds of what…hundreds of thousands? Oof.

  18. QuiteContrary says:

    I’m not giving Charles a pass for failing to hug his son in that terrible moment. Some people don’t like to be hugged, sure. But a good parent knows what a child needs — and Harry clearly needed a hug. So Charles should have forced his damaged self to hug Harry.

    He then forced his sons to walk behind their mom’s coffin. He’s a monster. As was Liz, who only performed grief when the masses demanded it.

    • Kit says:

      I think its maybe a generation thing, l was never hugged or kissed by anyone when l was younger, l kissed my mum in her cheek just before she died but that was it but none of my friends where hugged either , we laugh about it now as our parents are very great really but u know l never ever felt unloved, l actually very much felt loved and had a blissful childhood, my dad like Charles was also not made for been a single dad of 4 but he did his best and we.all respect him for it but l remember talking to my German friend about this, she was very bitter as it was the same with her too but she later fell out with her parent’s over something similar but seriously it never bothered me… l kiss and hug my children all de time and so do my childhood friends !!!

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        Kit, It might not be something that bothered you, but the fact that you kiss and hug your children all of the time says to me that this is something that you would have welcomed (even if not expected) as a child. Parenting is difficult because every child is different.

  19. Anj says:

    Can we talk about, pre-smart phone, waking the boys up to tell them their mother died? Coming awake from sleep is such a vulnerable time, being awakened from a sleep to be told a parent died seems cruel. My boys lost their dad when they were 9, 11 and 13. We were divorced, so when I received the news I had the ability to figure out how to tell them and when to tell them, in the way that I thought would be best for them, and to have support already in place for them. I can’t imagine having awakened my children to tell them they had lost a parent.

    • Jennifer says:

      Yeah, but they probably would have heard it elsewhere really darned quick if they weren’t told upon awakening.

  20. Rebma says:

    So much yes to the Charles Spencer hate. He would not allow Diana to live at their family home after her separation/divorce and he has been noticeably quiet during the Harry situation.
    I also fully agree that (now) King Charles had Diana killed. Point blank: he couldn’t remarry as long as she was alive. At the time of her death he was seeing the nanny, so I don’t even think he did it for Camilla. But he definitely orchestrated the scenario. I think photographing a woman as she dies is deplorable so the paparazzi deserve all of Harry’s hate.
    But the white car caused the accident-on purpose.

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      Rebma, please see my post above about Althorp. This is disinformation.

      I agree that there are missing pieces to the accident. It took FOREVER for that investigation to be completed, so why there are holes in it makes me think some things were removed from its pages. We’ll probably never know the truth.

  21. emmlo says:

    Harry’s little face in the funeral photos has always been heartwrenching to me. He looks so lost and so sad. The difference in maturity between ages 15 and 12 seems so vast when you look at them that day. I hated the thought of him waiting for her to call and reveal it was all a planned escape. That is exactly the type of magical thinking that would be most comforting, I totally get it, and it breaks my heart.

  22. Bad Janet says:

    This is one f***ed up family. Harry escaped a gilded cage.

  23. A says:

    I’ve made my feelings about Baldy and his behaviour over the recent years perfectly clear–but I honestly felt so angry when I read that someone really suggested that William walk behind his mother’s coffin, ALONE The fact that an actual human being would put that suggestion out there into this world is insane to me. How dare they. How dare they even open their mouth to suggest something so heinous to a fifteen year old boy who had just lost his mother a day or two ago. How absolutely awful that this was even on the table at any point. I can’t imagine what William might have felt, hearing that suggestion, in that moment.

    Charles Spencer isn’t a saint, and the fact that he was the only person in that room to even stick up for his sister’s sons is crazy for me as well. Their own father didn’t have their best interests at heart. What a family.