PRINCESS DIANA died 22 years ago, leaving behind her devastated sons William and Harry – but how did the boys react to the news Charles was seeing Camilla Parker Bowles two months before Diana died?
Yesterday was the 22nd anniversary of Diana’s death, when she suffered fatal injuries in a car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997. The ripples of this tragedy were felt all over the world, but it was especially agonising for 15-year-old William and 12-year-old Harry. The pair walked in the funeral procession behind their mother’s coffin, alongside their father Prince Charles, grandfather Prince Philip and uncle Charles Spencer.
Charles and Diana had finalised their divorce around a year before the accident, and Charles had rekindled his romance with his former mistress Camilla Parker Bowles, who was also recently divorced.
According to royal expert Penny Junor, Charles had even broached the subject of Camilla to his sons, just two months before Diana died.
Unfortunately, the boys had reacted rather coldly to it, particularly William.
She told the Daily Mail: “He had once broached the subject of Camilla with [William and Harry].
Prince William, Prince Harry and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (Image GETTY)
The Duchess of Cornwall apparently gets on well with the princes now (Image GETTY)
“It was two months before their mother died, and he was hoping to gradually ease his lover into his life.
“So he sat the boys down together and tried to explain the situation, but both of them went very quiet.
“He sensed William, in particular, didn’t want to know, so Charles didn’t bring up the subject again.”
In the aftermath of Diana’s death, Charles and Camilla were seen by some as villains who had ruined Diana’s life, and had to put their relationship on ice.
Charles, William and Harry look at flowers from mourners (Image GETTY)
Charles also wanted to be sensitive to the feelings of William and Harry, to do what was right, and not to anger the public who had so loved the late Princess of Wales.
Mr Junor added: “He knew it would be a long time before his name could be linked to Camilla’s again – longer still before they could be seen together.
“They had been so close but were now so far apart.”
That said, Charles still insisted to the Queen that Camilla was a “non-negotiable” part of his life.
Prince Philip, Prince William, Charles Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles at Diana’s funeral (Image GETTY)
Camilla and Charles married in 2005 – their children stand beside them (Image GETTY)
Charles and his team carefully planned out a long-term PR campaign to gradually introduce Camilla to public life.
First, she started to attend events on her own, then they would appear together, then they would kiss etc.
Slowly, the British public came round to the idea of Charles and Camilla’s relationship – but what about the princes?
According to a documentary entitled ‘The Real Camilla’, both the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex “adore” Camilla.
Camilla and Charles A timeline (Image EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)
Both were present at the 2005 wedding between Charles and Camilla, and they reportedly get on well with their father’s new wife.
The documentary’s producer Juliet Rice said: “She said that she’s seen all of this horrible press, all of this drama.
“But what gives her a sense of calm is that she knows the boys actually get on really well with her.
“William and Harry adore her. And her children get on extremely well with William and Harry”.
Camilla’s children Tom and Laura with Princes William and Harry (Image GETTY)
Camilla has two children with her former husband Andrew Parker Bowles – Tom Parker Bowles, 44, and Laura Lopes, 41.
Tom is actually Charles’ godson, as Andrew and Camilla were friends with Charles and Diana during their respective marriages.
The relationships between the children may have been key for the princes in accepting Camilla as their step-mother.
Approximately a year after Diana died, Charles invited Tom and Laura to stay at Birkhall, the Queen Mother’s former residence at Balmoral.
Despite their age differences – Harry is nearly 10 years younger than Tom – the four of them got on well and William told his father he now wanted to meet their mother.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK