PRINCESS DIANA put a “tremendous responsibility” on her son Prince William’s shoulders when she was going through her tumultuous and well-publicised divorce from Prince Charles, a royal insider has revealed.
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Diana is known as the ‘People’s Princess’ after capturing the hearts of royal fans across the globe. However, her well-documented separation and subsequent divorce from Prince Charles in 1996 meant she and her family had even more of a spotlight on them than before. Only a year after her tricky split, Diana died in a car accident in Paris, triggering worldwide mourning. William was only 15 when his mother was killed – his brother Prince Harry was 12.
‘Prince William at Thirty’ – a documentary uploaded to YouTube in 2012 – features Diana’s former royal protection officer Ken Wharfe, who recalled how the divorce created a great strain on the Princess of Wales – and her children.
Mr Wharfe said: “Diana did put tremendous responsibility on William’s shoulders, as someone to comfort and to talk to and to be with.”
Royal expert Katie Nicholl added: “There’s one really moving story where Diana was in tears in the bathroom and William was pushing tissues under the door because he could hear her crying.
“William was just about to enter those very difficult teenage years and had to do so with the backdrop of his parents’ marriage disintegrating with the most publicly awful way.”
Diana and Charles reportedly had problems throughout their 15-year marriage, leading to their separation in 1992 – a year which the Queen publicly described as “annus horribilis” – a horrible year.
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Diana and her son William (Image GETTY)
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Prince Charles and Diana reportedly had a “frosty” relationship (Image: GETTY)
Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond said: “[William would say] ‘It will be alright Mummy I will look after you’ – It was all the wrong way round for William.
“He was having to comfort his mother when she should have been looking after him. He was just a little boy.”
While Diana and Charles did make a public appearance for William’s first day at Eton College, such a display of unity did not reflect the real relationship between them.
Diana’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter also commented on their breakup in the documentary, and said: “The body language between Charles and Diana was non-existent. It was so frosty, you could have driven an icebreaker between the two of them and not cracked the ice.”
The already widely publicised divorce then gathered even more attention when Diana gave an interview explaining how her husband had an affair on national television.
Charles and Diana married in 1992 (Image: GETTY)
Her 1995 televised talk with Martin Bashir became global news. She revealed there were always “three people” in her marriage; herself, Charles and his lover – now wife – Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Mr Arbiter said: “I remember watching it and calling Diana afterwards. She wouldn’t take my call initially, but I got through to her eventually, and I said it was the stupidest thing she had ever done.”
The interview not only infuriated Buckingham Palace, but was also incredibly distressing for the couple’s children – William in particular.
Ms Nicholl said: “For him, the idea of playing out one’s troubles and wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve and bringing humiliation to the Royal Family, well, that was a big no-no.”
He refused to speak to her for a few days afterwards, which, according to Ms Nicholl, was “absolutely devastating” for Diana considering their close bond.
Diana and her sons when they were young (Image: GETTY)
Diana was close to Harry and William (Image: GETTY)
William and Harry have honoured their mother in several ways in the 22 years since her death.
William even gave Kate Middleton his mother’s engagement ring when he proposed to her, while Harry chose the sunken lawn for his engagement photoshoot with Meghan Markle.
The garden was allegedly one of Diana’s preferred spots in Kensington Palace.
There is also speculation that if Harry and Meghan have a daughter in the future, they would name her after Diana.
William, Harry and Charles at Diana’s funeral (Image GETTY)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are currently on tour in South Africa with their four-month old son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.
Harry will be visiting Angola during the trip, just as Diana did in 1997, to visit the anti-landmine legacy left behind by the late Princess of Wales.
The Duke of Sussex is in Botswana today – a place he claims helped him deal with his mother’s death.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK