The life and death of Princess Diana was clouded by controversy after controversy. But now Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, has shed some light on the lies he was told around the time of her death.
The Earl spoke about the now-famous moment he and his nephews followed Diana’s coffin to Westminster Abbey. They were accompanied by Prince Charles and Prince Philip.
Prince Harry himself has since admitted that it was a gravely insensitive idea. He openly spoke out against the decision, saying “No child should be asked to do that”. Dramatically, the Earl revealed that he was actually lied to about how the boys felt about the situation. He was under the impression that they wanted to do it. Later, he describes the whole experience as “harrowing”.
Princess Diana’s brother revealed that a court official at Buckingham Palace told him: “I was liaising with some courtier at Buckingham Palace and he mentioned it and I said, ‘Of course they’re not going to do that’ . . . he said, ‘Well, it’s been decided’.
“I said she would not want them to do this, and there was lots of embarrassed coughing at the other end and various other conversations. Then 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.”
Speaking candidly about the funeral procession, he opened up about how awful it was to walk with Harry and William. He said, “I think it was the most horrifying half hour of my life, really — far worse than delivering a speech at the end of it.
“It was 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.
“And it was this sort of bizarre circumstance where you were told you just had to look straight ahead. But the feeling, the sort of absolute crashing of a tidal wave of grief coming at you as you went down this tunnel of deep emotion.”
Describing the impact it’s had on him since, he explained “It was harrowing. I still have nightmares. There was an inner turmoil of thinking, ‘My God, this is ghastly’. But then thinking these two boys are doing this and it must be a million times worse for them.”
Earl Spencer’s speech…
Princess Diana’s brother also delivered a eulogy at the service on 6th September 1997. And while it paid tribute to his beloved sister, it was also considered a slam on the royals.
During the speech, he spoke about how “blood family” would care for Harry and William after her death. And he also suggested that the reason behind it was “so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition”.
It’s not the first time the royal family have been publicly criticsed by close confidantes. Diana herself spoke about the way the family tried to control her, in her ground-breaking Panorama documentary.
She confessed that after her divorce from Charles, the family began to see her as a “problem”. The former Princess of Wales revealed that, “life became very difficult for me”. She even admitted that visits abroad were blocked, as were her letters.