NewsUK News

Philip’s teary vow to grandsons William and Harry before mum Diana’s funeral

It is the most heartbreaking image from Princess Diana’s funeral – devastated William and Harry walking behind her coffin with their dad, uncle and grandfather.

The scene was controversial and for years there has been a debate over whether it was appropriate for the Princess of Wales’ young sons to join the funeral cortege as millions watched on TV.

Harry, then 12, and William, who was 15 at the time, have since told how it was a “group decision”, and the Duke of Sussex has said that in hindsight it was one that he was happy with.

It is said that Prince Philip, the boys’ grandfather, was concerned that they might regret not following Diana’s cortege and told them the night before the funeral ”I’ll walk if you walk”, despite his “intense” dislike for the princess.

Philip, William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles walk behind Princess Diana's coffin outside Westminster Abbey
Philip, William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles walk behind Princess Diana’s coffin

The following day, the Duke of Edinburgh joined William, Harry, Prince Charles and Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, on the journey from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey.

Until Philip’s encouragement, William and Harry had been unsure about whether they wanted to be involved, the Daily Star reported.

The story resurfaced after the duke, 99, died in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday morning.

Over the years, there have been conflicting reports over who proposed the idea and was directly responsible for the boys being involved in the funeral procession following Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Video Loading

Video Unavailable

It is said there was pressure from then-prime minister Tony Blair’s government.

The siblings have since described it as a collective family decision.

Anji Hunter, who was Mr Blair’s government relations director, told of a dramatic intervention by Philip during a conference call.

She told the Evening Standard: “We were all talking about how William and Harry should be involved and suddenly came Prince Philip’s voice.

Keep up to date with all the latest news from the Queen, Charles, William, Kate, Harry, Meghan, George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and the rest of the family.

We’ll send the best Royal news directly to your inbox so you never have to miss a thing. Sign up to our newsletter here.

“We hadn’t heard from him before, but he was really anguished. ‘It’s about the boys,’ he cried, ‘They’ve lost their mother.’”

At a supper the night before the funeral, Philip is said to have told his grandsons: “I’ll walk if you walk.”

In 2017, Mr Spencer described the decision to include the young princes in the procession as “bizarre and cruel”, and said he had argued against it because he didn’t think Diana would want them to do it.

He told the BBC “eventually I was lied to and told that they wanted to do it, which of course they didn’t, but I didn’t realise that”.

He said ”the worst part of the day by a considerable margin, walking behind my sister’s body with two boys who were obviously massively grieving their mother”.

Royal author Ingrid Seward wrote in her book, My Husband And I: The Inside Story of the Royal Marriage, that Mr Spencer reportedly believed he should be the only one to walk behind the gun carriage bearing his sister’s coffin, but the royals disagreed with him.

She wrote: “In a mark of respect to an ex-wife and a departed mother, Prince Charles wanted to walk behind the cortege with William and Harry beside him.

“Another of the by-now interminable rows ensued over the telephone, which Spencer ended by hanging up on the prince…

Philip and the Queen view the sea of floral tributes to Princess Diana after her death
Philip and the Queen view the sea of floral tributes to Diana after her death

“It was made clear to Spencer that, regardless of whatever private feelings he might harbour, the prince and his sons would walk behind the gun carriage bearing the princess’s coffin.”

In 2017, Harry said it was something no child “should be asked to do”, but told the BBC he doesn’t “have an opinion whether that was right or wrong” and is now “very glad” he did it.

William told the documentary Diana, 7 Days that walking behind his mother’s coffin was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done”.

He said he used his fringe as a “safety blanket” during the “very long, lonely walk”.

After the funeral, Diana was laid to rest on an island at her ancestral home, Althorp House, in Northamptonshire.

Immediately after her death, there was a public outcry and criticism of the Queen over her response to Diana’s passing and when the flagpole at Buckingham Palace remained bare.

The Queen was not in residence, but away at Balmoral, amid accusations the royals weren’t doing enough to help the country grieve.

In a break with protocol, the monarch eventually ordered that a Union flag be flown at half-mast for the first time at her London home.

In a rare public statement amid the outcry, the Queen’s spokesman said the Royal Family was hurt by suggestions that it was indifferent to the country’s sorrow over Diana’s death.



All Credit

Related Articles

Back to top button