Prince William and Harry Recall Funeral Walk Behind Princess Diana’s Coffin: ‘I Am Glad I Was Part of It’


Prince William and Prince Harry
Prince William and Prince Harry attend the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, England. Samir Hussein/WireImage

The hardest walk they’ve ever taken. Prince William and Prince Harry opened up about walking behind their mother Princess Diana’s coffin at her funeral 20 years ago in a new BBC documentary, Diana, 7 Days

William and Harry, who were ages 15 and 12 at the time, revealed that their family came to a consensus that they should walk in the funeral procession through London. “It wasn’t an easy decision, and it was a collective family decision to do that,” William, now 35, said in the documentary. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But we were overwhelmed by how many people turned out, it was just incredible. There was that balance between duty and family and that’s what we had to do.”

Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles
Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles during the funeral of Princess Diana of Wales at London, England in 1997. Jeff Overs/Getty Images

In retrospect, Harry, 32, is happy that he marched behind the casket with his brother; his father, Prince Charles; his grandfather Prince Philip; and his uncle Earl Spencer. “I think it was a group decision. But before I knew it, I found myself with a suit on with a black tie and a white shirt, I think, and I was part of it,” he said. “Genuinely, I don’t have an opinion on whether that was right or wrong. I am glad I was part of it. Looking back on it now, I am very glad I was part of it.”

Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles
Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles during the funeral of Princess Diana of Wales at London, England in 1997. Jeff J. Mitchell/AFP/Getty Images

William added that it was a “long and lonely walk,” but he understood his duty as a member of the royal family. “Both our parents brought us up to understand that there is this element of duty, and responsibility that you have to do things you don’t want to do,” he shared. “When it becomes that personal, walking behind your mother’s funeral cortege, it goes to another level of duty. But I just kept thinking about what she would want and that she’d be proud of Harry and I, and effectively she was there with us. It felt like she was walking alongside us to get us through it.”

The brothers also recalled being confused about the public’s reaction to Diana’s death. “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 — I thought you didn’t even know her, why and how are you so upset?” William said. “Now, looking back, I’ve learned to understand what it was that she gave the world, what she gave a lot of people.”

Diana, 7 Days will also air on NBC on Friday, September 1, at 8 p.m. ET. 

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