There isn’t a day that passes during which Prince William and Prince Harry do not think about their late mom, Princess Diana. As Harry once said, “She was quite simply the best mother in the world.”
It was 20 years ago when Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car accident in Paris. William was just 15 years old at the time, his brother only 12.
The shocking events of August 31, 1997, made William and Harry the human faces of an international tragedy. While millions cried openly in the street at their mother’s funeral, the boys remained dry-eyed and stoic as they paid tribute in the most public of circumstances by walking behind her coffin as it made its way slowly down The Mall.
The world was heartbroken, a nation was in mourning, but the young princes were the epitome of strength. The loss had left a gaping hole in their lives. They had shared a unique bond with their mother; she was not just a parent, but also a guardian and friend, someone intent on teaching them normalcy despite the pomp and circumstance that surrounded them. Their fate as future heir and spare was unavoidable, but she was determined to fill their lives with as much love and laughter as possible, elements her own failed marriage to Prince Charles had so desperately lacked.
Royal life seemed to go back to normal in the years that followed. Attention focused on how to protect the boys from becoming prey for the press, like their mother. From the small snippets of their life that we did get to witness, it was clear their world was very different from the one they inhabited before. Their relationship with their father grew closer and their days were filled with boarding school, friends, family skiing trips to the Alps, university and, of course, William eventually fell in love with a commoner called Kate Middleton.
As the memories of their mother started to fade, the young royals seemed steadfast in prepping for their role as public servants.
It wasn’t until the 10th anniversary of her death that a then 22-year-old Harry finally broke his silence about the loss.
“William and I can separate life into two parts,” he explained at a memorial for Diana. “There were those years when we were blessed with the physical presence beside us of both our mother and father. And then there are the 10 years since our mother’s death. When she was alive we completely took for granted her unrivaled love of life, laughter, fun and folly.”