In honor of the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, a new documentary featuring Princes William and Harry offers a revealing glimpse into a side of Diana’s life we never really knew: her role as a mother.
In Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, both princes speak candidly about their mother for the first time ever, sharing never-before-seen family photographs and meeting with many people whose lives she touched.
“This is the first time the two of us have ever spoken about her as a mother,” Prince William shared. “The 20th anniversary year feels like a good time to remember all the good things about her and hopefully provide maybe a different side that others haven’t seen before.”
During the hour-long special, countless loved ones shared their most intimate memories of the princess. And I’ll be honest — the likelihood of a lump forming in your throat while watching (not to mention tears stinging your eyes) is very high. Especially after hearing what the princes had to say about their beloved mum.
“It’s still raw,” Prince Harry admitted. “She was our mom. She still is our mom. And of course as her son I would say this, she was the best mom in the world.”
Can you see why I was clutching tissues from the very start?
Harry also shared that Diana smothered the boys with love, and recalls how she would regularly engulf them in a great big hug and squeeze them as tightly as possible.
“There was no escape,” he recalled, with a slight grin at the memory. “Even talking about it now I can still feel those hugs she used to give.” He added that even if he or William were on the other side of the room, they could just feel her love.
“Harry and I felt incredibly loved and are very grateful that that love still feels present,” remembered Prince William.
One of the most poignant moments of the 75-minute special, which aired on July 24 on HBO, came when the brothers went through an assortment of unseen photos, recalling their mother fondly. But they weren’t the only ones reminiscing: Interspersed throughout the documentary are comments from some of Diana’s closest friends and family, including Sir Elton John, who all smiled and shared their favorite moments with the People’s Princess. The memories revealed her childlike nature and cheeky sense of humor, as well as her tireless charity work, including her bid to end the use of land mines.
While watching video footage of Diana riding a roller coaster, William recalled his mother’s mischievous and jolly nature, as well as the huge smile that was often plastered across her face.
But in addition to her playful side, there was also an element of seriousness to Diana, as William shared that she always understood that there was real life outside the palace walls.
“She set us up really well,” William said. “She gave us the right tools and has prepared us well for life in the best way she could, obviously not knowing what was going to happen.”
And despite the incredible pressures of being in the public eye, and having her every move scrutinized, her sons say she was was extremely good at showing her love and telling her children what they truly meant to her. In a particularly candid moment, William shared that it was Diana who taught them how important it is to feel, and she always prioritized talking with them about their emotions.
“Communication always being open was very important to her,” said William, recalling the private moments his mother spent asking him about his school days or whatever happened to be on his mind.
But the documentary takes an even more heart-wrenching turn when the princes discuss for the first time the final phone call they had with their mother.
The boys were on vacation with the Royal family when Diana called them from Paris in late August 1997, after not having seen her sons in weeks. Harry shared that they were so focused on a game with their cousins, he wasn’t paying much attention to the phone call. But most heartbreaking of all? Harry still can’t truly recall what he said — only that he continues to regret how short the phone call was.
“I have to sort of deal with that for the rest of my life,” said Harry. “Not knowing that was the last time I was going to speak to my mum, and how differently that conversation would have panned out if I’d had even the slightest inkling that her life was going to be taken that night.”
That “what-if” moment is something far too many of us have to deal with in our lives — but never on the public level that William and Harry have had to endure. Diana’s tragic death may have shocked the world; but privately it left her sons reeling. And the ripple effects of her sudden passing are clearly still there.
Still, William revealed that he’s keeping the memory of “Granny Diana” alive for his children however he can, keeping photos of her around the house and talking about her frequently. He even went on to joke that Diana would be a “nightmare” of a grandmother saying, “She’d come in, probably around bath time, cause an amazing amount of scene, bubbles everywhere, bath water all over the place, and then leave.” (As any fun-loving grandparent would!)
Diana, Our Mother paints a comprehensive picture of Diana as so much more than just a princess. To those who truly knew her, she was a doting, loving mother of two with an unforgettable sense of humor. A woman known for giving “naughty” greeting cards and smothering her children with love.
William truly completed that picture when he talked about the way Diana equipped her sons with love and emotional support, directly teaching them how to handle life not just as royalty, but as quality humans who know the inherent value in a family unit and the importance of living a full, meaningful life.
Even 20 years later, it’s heartbreaking that Princess Diana is no longer with us, but the legacy she has left behind in her sons is something the world will clearly never forget.