Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana: Echoes of royal past as Prince William and Prince Harry mourn


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Queen Elizabeth II’s death this week brought about a strikingly similar scene as mourners watched on while Her Majesty’s coffin made its way from Buckingham Palace and traveled to Westminster Hall, an image reminiscent of Princess Diana’s memorial 25 years ago when Prince William and Prince Harry followed their mother’s casket to its final resting place shortly after she died.

As Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin made the 20-minute journey through the streets of London, the world was transported back to 1997 where the young princes stood strong in their last physical act of protecting their mother before she was laid to rest.

On Sept. 6, 1997, Prince William and Prince Harry walked alongside their father Charles, the late Prince Philip and Diana’s brother, Charles, the Earl of Spencer, on the two-mile route from Kensington Palace and through central London to Westminster Abbey for her service.

William was 15 years old at the time and Harry was 12. Their mother was 36 years old when she died on Aug. 31, 1997 following a car collision in Paris, France. She was known as “The People’s Princess” despite her disdain for the press and life in the spotlight, and divorced Charles in 1996, with paparazzi ultimately chasing her to death. 

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Prince William and Prince Harry (pictured left in 1997, right on Wednesday) mourned the loss of Queen Elizabeth II during a funeral procession similar to Princess Diana’s.
(Getty Images)

The brothers reunited once again Wednesday to walk for Her Majesty, as they followed the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. Services are planned for Monday, Sept. 19.

Similar to the Queen’s coffin, Diana’s was covered in the Royal Standard and featured white flowers. 

The late Prince Philip insisted the boys walk behind their mother’s coffin 25 years ago, according to Tina Brown in an excerpt from her 2007 book, “The Diana Chronicles.”

“‘I’m not going to march in any bloody parade,’ William had wept,'” she wrote. “Philip had gently cajoled him: ‘If I walk, will you walk with me?”

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“To keep the boys from breaking down along the route, Philip talked to them quietly about each of the historic landmarks of London they passed.”

In Sally Bedell Smith’s 2017 biography, “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life,” Prince Philip reportedly told Diana’s sons, “If you don’t walk, you may regret it later.” 

During a 2017 interview with Newsweek, Prince Harry said, “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”

Princess Diana was buried on Sept. 6, 1997, and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, joined the funeral procession at the request of the late Prince Philip.

Princess Diana was buried on Sept. 6, 1997, and her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, joined the funeral procession at the request of the late Prince Philip.
(Tim Graham Photo Library)

The Princess of Wales' coffin, escorted by Coldstream Guards, in The Mall on the day of her funeral service.

The Princess of Wales’ coffin, escorted by Coldstream Guards, in The Mall on the day of her funeral service.
(Terry Fincher)

The Duke of Sussex also admitted in the TV documentary “Diana, 7 Days That Shook the Windsors” that he was glad he did it. He also appreciated how his father Charles supported him and William despite the difficult time, which was only one year after Charles and Diana’s divorce was finalized.

“One of the hardest things for a parent to have to do is tell your children that your other parent has died. How you deal with that, I don’t know,” Harry said. “But he was there for us. He was the one out of two left. And he tried to do his best and to make sure that we were protected and looked after. But he was going through the same grieving process as well.”

William added, “But I have to say, when it becomes that personal as walking behind your mother’s funeral cortege, it goes to another level of duty.”

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At the time, Diana’s brother, the Earl of Spencer, was against the boys walking in the procession and told BBC Radio 4 that it was a “very bizarre and cruel” thing to ask such young people to be part of. He said he was “lied to and told they wanted to do it.”

He added: “It was truly horrifying, actually. We would walk a hundred yards and hear people sobbing and then walk round a corner and somebody wailing and shouting out messages of love to Diana or William and Harry, and it was a very, very tricky time.”

Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Earl Spencer, Prince William and the Duke of Edinburgh (L to R) walked into Westminster Abbey for Diana's services in September 1997.

Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Earl Spencer, Prince William and the Duke of Edinburgh (L to R) walked into Westminster Abbey for Diana’s services in September 1997.
(Jeff J. Mitchell/AFP)

Prince William and Prince Harry view the flowers left behind by thousands of mourners following Princess Diana's death in 1997.

Prince William and Prince Harry view the flowers left behind by thousands of mourners following Princess Diana’s death in 1997.
(Anwar Hussein)

Prince William gave an emotional speech to mourners Thursday outside Sandringham House, and shared just how painful it was walking behind his grandmother’s casket in the procession the day before.

From a video captured by Sky News, the Prince of Wales admitted he was somewhat “prepared” for the day, while also not entirely ready to be in the position to say his goodbyes.

“Doing the walk yesterday was challenging,” he said. “It brought back a few memories. It’s one of those moments where you kind of think to yourself, ‘I’ve prepared myself for this,’ but I’m not that prepared. 

“It’s this weird kind of thing … Because we knew she was 96.”

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One mourner recalled William saying that following his grandmother’s procession reminded him of “his mum’s funeral.”

“Catherine said it’s just been such a difficult time for all of them, for the whole family,” Jane Wells told The Telegraph.

As the royals reunited last week, turmoil among the family still persists as Harry’s birthday on Thursday, Sept. 15 wasn’t even noticed by the official royal social media pages, including the accounts operated by his brother and sister-in-law.

The new “Fab Four” reunited after years apart, but weren’t without some criticism as Prince William went viral in a video where he was criticized for his lack of chivalry for his wife, while Harry rushed to be by Meghan’s side and open a car door as the group left the event together Saturday.

Prince William, left, and Prince Harry, second left, follow the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in London, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. The Queen will lie in state in Westminster Hall for four full days before her funeral on Monday Sept. 19. 

Prince William, left, and Prince Harry, second left, follow the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall in London, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. The Queen will lie in state in Westminster Hall for four full days before her funeral on Monday Sept. 19. 
(Vadim Ghirda)

Senior members of the British Royal Family follow behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. 

Senior members of the British Royal Family follow behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. 
(Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Prince William and Kate Middleton lead procession as Queen Elizabeth II's coffin is transported to Westminster Hall, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle standing in the distance.

Prince William and Kate Middleton lead procession as Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin is transported to Westminster Hall, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle standing in the distance.
(Getty Images)

In 2020, Harry and wife Meghan Markle departed from royal duties due to what they described as the British media’s intrusion and racist demeanor toward their family. 

Markle revealed she felt suicidal before they decided to leave England and move back to her home state of California, and Harry acknowledged there was tension with his father over his decision to not only step away from his royal responsibilities, but also for his marriage to the biracial actress.

It’s still unclear which of the Queen’s great-grandchildren will be involved in the funeral on Monday, with speculation that William’s eldest son George may be in attendance, if any of the great-grandkids are.

A major point of contention for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remained unanswered — if their children, Archie and Lilibet, would receive the “His/Her Royal Highness” titles, but King Charles III did agree to give the children prince and princess titles following his ascension to the throne. 

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“So this was a big contention during the Oprah interview, because Meghan told Oprah Archie was entitled to be a prince and that the family had denied him. That was not right. That was incorrect,” royal expert Shannon Felton Spence explained.

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales view floral tributes at Sandringham on September 15, 2022 in King's Lynn, England.

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales view floral tributes at Sandringham on September 15, 2022 in King’s Lynn, England.
(Samir Hussein)

Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pictured outside Windsor Castle Saturday.

Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pictured outside Windsor Castle Saturday.
(photo by Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Now that Charles has become king, Prince Harry and Markle’s children are grandchildren of the sovereign.

“I think that it’s beautiful now that today is Harry’s birthday, and the king has granted them the titles,” Spence said. “It’s a privilege of being the grandchild of the sovereign. This is great, and I think that it should show that all that was preventing it was a document.”

Spence also explained why Harry and Markle’s children will likely not receive His/Her Royal Highness (HRH) titles at this point.

“Harry’s always had one and Meghan got hers when they got married because they were working royals,” Spence told Fox News Digital. “Their first full-time job was working royals. Using the HRH titles just enables additional privileges, like state-funded security. So that’s why we no longer call Prince Harry, His Royal Highness, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, or Her Royal Highness, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. They’re not going to take them away, but they don’t use them.

“So Archie and Lili won’t get them right now because they’re not working royals, and their parents don’t use them,” she continued. “That doesn’t mean that they won’t ever get them. It just means that, at this moment, they don’t have HRH. It doesn’t really make any difference to their lives in California at all.”

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Fox News’ Ashley Papa contributed to this report.



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