“He’s obviously been through similar grief with the loss of his mother, [Princess Diana], so he gave powerful advice to the children that will stay with them forever,” James’ husband, Sebastian Bowen, told the UK newspaper The Times in a story published on Monday, August 15. “He felt like a friend, but he was the future king. That was bizarre. He was so relaxed; he came and sat down in the garden and had champagne with the family.”
The Duke of Cambridge, 40, visited James and her family at their home in May to award her with a damehood, just one month before she died at the age of 40 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“Prince William actually came to our family house today,” the journalist, who was in hospice care at the time, wrote via Instagram after their afternoon together. “I am utterly honoured that he joined us for afternoon tea and champagne, where he not only spent a generous amount of time talking to my whole family but also honoured me with my Damehood. It’s quite surreal having a royal pop in at home, and yes you can imagine the cleaning antics and preparation went off the scale – but it was all irrelevant because William was so kind and he put us all at ease.”
James’ post continued: “It was such a special day for my whole family, making memories to last a life time. He’s welcome back any time!”
In the wake of her death, William and Duchess Kate released a rare personal statement expressing their grief and sharing their condolences with James’ family. “We are so sad to hear the heartbreaking news about Dame Deborah,” the royals said at the time. “Our thoughts are with her children, her family and her loved ones. Deborah was an inspirational and unfalteringly brave woman whose legacy will live on. W & C.”
William has previously been open about his own experiences grieving his mother, who died in a car crash in August 1997.
“Slowly, you try to rebuild your life, you try to understand what happened. I kept myself busy, as well, to allow you to get yourself through that initial shock phase. We’re talking maybe as much as five to seven years afterwards,” the former pilot said in the 2017 HBO documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy. “You know, there was times when you look to someone or something for strength and I very much felt she was there for me.”
Elsewhere in the documentary, William explained that he frequently shares stories about his mother with his children, Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4. “We’ve got more photos up around the house of her, and we talk about her a bit and stuff,” he said at the time. “And it’s hard because obviously Catherine didn’t know her, so she cannot really provide that level of detail. So I do regularly, putting George and Charlotte to bed, talk about her, and just try to remind them that there are two grandmothers — there were two grandmothers in their lives. And it’s important they know who she was and that she existed.”
In March 2021, William and Kate, 40, revealed that the three little ones also write Mother’s Day cards to their late grandmother every year, in addition to Duchess Camilla. “For those experiencing bereavement, today may be particularly challenging,” the couple wrote on the Kensington Palace Instagram page. “Each year on Mother’s Day, George, Charlotte and Louis make cards remembering their Granny, Diana, for William. Whatever your circumstances, we are thinking of you this Mother’s Day.”
They also shared photos of the trio’s cards, including one that included one from Charlotte to Diana which included the message, “I am thinking of you on Mother’s Day. I love you very much. Papa is missing you.”