His worst moment. Prince Harry opened up about learning of his mother Princess Diana’s death — and how his father, King Charles III, struggled to deliver the tragic news to his sons.
“Pa didn’t hug me,” Harry, 38, writes in his memoir, Spare, which Us Weekly exclusively obtained before its Tuesday, January 10, release date. “He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances, how could he be expected to show them in such a crisis? But his hand did fall once more on my knee and he said: ‘It’s going to be OK.’ That was quite a lot for him. Fatherly, hopeful, kind. And so very untrue.”
The Duke of Sussex, who was 12 years old at the time of his mother’s death in 1997, detailed the conversation he had with Charles, 74, and how the reality of her passing didn’t initially click after hearing of her accident.
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“[Charles] sat down on the edge of the bed. He put a hand on my knee. Darling boy, Mummy’s been in a car crash. I remember thinking: Crash … OK. But she’s all right? Yes? I vividly remember that thought flashing through my mind,” the Archewell cofounder recalled. “And I remember waiting patiently for Pa to confirm that indeed Mummy was all right. And I remember him not doing that.”
At first, Harry recounted still believing that doctors could somehow “fix” Diana’s head wounds and that he’d be able to see her “tonight at the latest.”
However, Harry described feeling a “shift internally” once he realized that his mother wouldn’t recover from the medical “complications” and “head injury” that she suffered from the fatal crash. “I began silently pleading with Pa, or God, or both: No, no, no,” he shared.
“Mummy was quite badly injured and taken to hospital, darling boy,” Harry remembered Charles telling him, adding that his father always called him “darling boy” but that he was repeating it “quite a lot” during this particular conversation.
While the BetterUP CIO said that there were details about the memory that remain fuzzy — including whether Charles had mentioned Diana being chased or that paparazzi being present — there were other phrases that “remain in my heart like darts in a board.”
“They tried, darling boy. I’m afraid she didn’t make it,” he recalled Charles saying. “And then everything seemed to come to a stop.”
Later in the memoir, Harry got candid about attempting to heal from his mother’s death in unhealthy ways, including going through the tunnel where she died — the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris — at the same speed.
“Off we went, weaving through traffic, cruising past the Ritz, where Mummy had her last meal, with her boyfriend, that August night. Then we came to the mouth of the tunnel. We zipped ahead, went over the lip at the tunnel’s entrance, the bump that supposedly sent Mummy’s Mercedes veering off course,” he revealed. “But the lip was nothing. We barely felt it.”
Spare isn’t the first time Harry has opened up about how the late princess’ death affected him. In March 2021, the England native said the loss “left a huge hole inside of” him.
“You may feel alone, you may feel sad, you may feel angry, you may feel bad,” he wrote in a forward penned for the children’s book Hospital by the Hill. “This feeling will pass. and I will make a promise to you — you will feel better and stronger once you are ready to talk about how it makes you feel. … When a parent goes to heaven, I was told their spirit, their love and the memories of them do not. They are always with you and you can hold onto them forever. I find this to be true.”
After tying the knot with Meghan Markle in 2018 and stepping down from his senior royal duties two years later, the duke has also compared Meghan, 41, and his own experiences with the U.K. media and the royal family to the scrutiny that Diana faced prior to her passing.
“I’ve lost a few friends in this process as well,” Harry, who shares son Archie, 3, and daughter Lilibet, 19 months, with the Suits alum, said during his Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, in December 2022. “I mean, I came [to California] because I was changed. I changed to the point that I’d outgrown my environment. Therefore, this was the most obvious place to come.”
He added: “You know, it’s one of the places where I think my mom was probably gonna end up living potentially.”
Spare will be released Tuesday, January 10. The palace has yet to publicly comment on the tell-all.