It’s been more than 20 years since she died, and on the anniversary of her death, Prince Harry took Meghan Markle to where Princess Diana is buried.
Princess Diana died in the early hours of August 31, 1997, after her car crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France, following a chase from the paparazzi. She was 36 years old. Her rumored boyfriend, Egyptian businessman Emad “Dodi” Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene. Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the crash with serious injuries.
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Diana was rushed to the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital where she died hours later. According to Oprah magazine, Diana suffered from a concussion, a broken arm, a cut thigh, and massive chest injuries. After a two-hour operation to save her, the doctors failed to get Diana’s heart to beat properly and she never regained consciousness. She died from internal bleeding at 4:53 a.m.
Harry and William were 12 years old and 15 years old respectively when their mother died. In his 2023 book Spare, Harry revealed that he and William learned of Diana’s death after their father, King Charles III, woke them up that morning. “He sat down on the edge of the bed,” Harry wrote. “He put a hand on my knee. Darling boy, Mummy’s been in a car crash.” He went on, “They tried, darling boy. I’m afraid she didn’t make it.”
Where is Princess Diana buried?
Princess Diana was buried at Althorp, the Spencer family’s ancestral home in Northamptonshire, England. Diana was laid to rest on an island at the center of the ornamental lake known as The Round Oval within Althorp Park’s Pleasure Garden, and her gravesite is off-limits to the public.
In Spare, Harry detailed how on the 25th anniversary of his mother’s death, he took his wife Meghan Markle to visit her grave, rowing a boat over the water to reach the island. “No visit to this place was ever easy, but this one… the twenty-fifth anniversary. And Meg’s first time. At long last, I was bringing the girl of my dreams home to meet mum,” he wrote.
“We hesitated, hugging, and then I went first. I placed flowers on the grave. Meg gave me a moment, and I spoke to my mother in my head, told her I missed her, asked her for guidance and clarity,” he continued. “Feeling that Meg might also want a moment, I went around the hedge, scanned the pond. When I came back, Meg was kneeling, eyes shut, palms against the stone. I asked, as we walked back to the boat, what she’d prayed for,” Prince Harry added. “Clarity, she said. And guidance.”
Years after Diana’s death, Harry revealed that he asked to see the secret police files related to the crash. His private secretary at the time obtained the files, though he removed the shots that would be the most “challenging” for Harry to see. In Spare, Harry slammed the paparazzi for taking photos of his dead mother. “[They] never stopped shooting her while she lay between the seats, unconscious, or semiconscious,” he wrote. “Not one of them was checking on her, offering her help, not even comforting her. They were just shooting, shooting, shooting.”
In an interview with 60 Minutes in January 2023, Harry revealed that he didn’t believe Diana’s death until he was 23 years old and thought it was fake. “For a long time. I just refused to accept that she was gone. Part of [it was] she would never do this to us. But also, part of it maybe [felt like] this is all part of a plan,” he said. “For a time [I believed she was alive] and then she would call us, and we would go and join her.”
The late Princess of Wales has been mourned by millions of people around the world, with many blaming the paparazzi and the British media for their part in how she died. In an interview on CBS’ Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special in March 2021, Harry opened up about how he feared for the safety of himself and his wife, Meghan, which is the reason he moved his family from London to America in 2019.
“My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” Harry told Oprah referencing Princess Diana’s death. “For me, I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here, talking to you with my wife by my side. Because I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for her [Diana] going through this process by herself all those years ago. Because it has been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we have each other.”
In an interview with People in 2016, Harry talked about how he just wants to make his late mother “proud.” “All I want to do is make my mother incredibly proud,” he said at the time. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.” He continued, “When she died, there was a gaping hole, not just for us but also for a huge amount of people across the world. If I can try and fill a very small part of that, then job done. I will have to, in a good way, spend the rest of my life trying to fill that void as much as possible. And so will William.”
Though Harry is motivated by his mother, he also confirmed that he makes his own choices in his life separate from what Diana would want from him. “I enjoy what I do. But I don’t do things because I feel as though my mother would want me to do them,” he said. “I know I’ve got a lot of my mother in me. I am doing a lot of things that she would probably do.”
For more about Prince Harry, read his upcoming memoir, Spare. Told for the first time in his own words, the book takes readers through the Duke of Sussex’s life with the British royal family, from the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 to how the moment led to his decision decades later to move to America with his wife, Meghan Markle, and leave Buckingham Palace for good in 2020. “With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief,” the publisher’s description reads.
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