A moving echo of the past. Prince William and Prince Harry united behind Queen Elizabeth II‘s coffin almost 25 years to the day after Princess Diana‘s funeral.
The Prince of Wales, 40, and the Duke of Sussex, 37, walked next to each other on Wednesday, September 14, as the late monarch’s coffin was moved from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where it will lie in state for several days. The brothers were part of the procession along with their father, King Charles III, and the king’s siblings, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
William and Harry’s side-by-side walk was reminiscent of the moment when the brothers — then 15 and 12, respectively, walked behind their mother’s coffin at her 1997 funeral. The late Princess of Wales died in August 1997 in a car crash in Paris at age 36.
The queen’s Westminster processional on Wednesday took place exactly 25 years and eight days after Diana’s funeral, which happened on September 6, 1997. Anne, 72, later recalled that her father, Prince Philip, offered to walk with the duo as a show of support.
“I seem to remember him saying that in fact, it was a question of, ‘If you’ll do it, I’ll do it,'” the Princess Royal told ITV News after Philip’s death in April 2021. “And that was him as a grandfather saying to them, ‘If you want me to be there, if that’s what you want to do and if you want me to be there, I will be there.’”
Harry, for his part, has been open about how difficult the experience was for him as a preteen. “My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” the Invictus Games founder told Newsweek in June 2017. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”
After Diana’s death, the queen kept her grandsons with her at Balmoral in Scotland rather than let them return to London. In a 2017 interview with ITV News, Anne said she thought her mother’s decision had protected the boys from some of the difficulties they would have experienced in the U.K. capital.
“My mother did exactly the right thing,” Anne explained. “I just don’t know how you could think that would have been the better thing to do. I don’t think either of those two would have been able to cope if they had been anywhere else.”
While the brothers’ relationship has been tense since Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, announced their decision to step down as senior working royals in January 2020, the duo have put on a united front in the wake of their grandmother’s death.
The Duke of Cornwall, for his part, invited Harry and the Suits alum, 41, to join him and Princess Kate to greet mourners outside Windsor Castle on Saturday, September 10.
“In the end, [William] elected to [invite them] because it was agreed amongst all of them that this very much the appropriate thing to do,” an insider told Us. “For all of their differences in the past, many of which still linger, this was what the Queen would have wanted and William knew very well that it was no time to be holding onto grudges or distancing himself from his brother.”
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