Twenty-four years ago, to the day, the whole world mourned Lady Diana. On 31 August 1997, the Princess of Wales died in a tragic car accident under the Alma bridge in Paris. The news shook the walls of Balmoral Castle, where the entire British royal family was enjoying their summer holidays.
Questions about the burial and repatriation of the body of Prince Harry and Prince William's mother quickly became the talk of the town. According to The Mirror, Prince Charles was ready to fly to the French capital to bring Diana's body home. 'It was a surprising and brave decision,' says journalist Richard Kay.
Charles fought harder for Diana than he had ever fought for her in her lifetime.
Her Majesty denied her son's request
When informed of her son's wishes, Her Majesty immediately refused his request. Nevertheless, Prince Charles did not give up and decided to stand up to his mother.
Faced with the sadness of her eldest son, Elizabeth II finally gave in and allowed him to use the royal plane to bring the people's princess back to the UK. So, the future King of England flew to Paris with Diana's sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, before being taken to the Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital, where the Princess had died.
Shortly afterwards, Lady Di's coffin was taken on the royal plane to Northolt, before being transferred to St James' Palace and then to Kensington Palace. By bringing back the body of the mother of his two sons, Charles was able to pay his last respects, as Richard Kay explains in the documentary Diana: 7 Days.
He was devastated. She was a woman he had loved in his own way.
The years pass, but some wounds struggle to heal. On Diana's birthday, which would have been her 60th, Charles stayed away from the commemoration. According to a source close to the royal heir, the prince found the tribute 'terribly difficult.'
This connoisseur of the royal family, who spoke to The Times on Sunday 27 June, explained that for Charles, 'these moments have the potential to reopen old wounds, and to bring back memories, some joyful, some sad, or laden with regret.'
Back in 2017, Charles did not attend the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Diana's death, rendered by her sons at Althorp, on the Spencer family estate where she is laid to rest.
In a BBC documentary broadcast the same year, in 2017, Prince Harry praised the way their father had coped with their mother's death, and the way he had protected them. He said:
One of the hardest things for a parent to do is to tell their children that their other parent has died. He was the one left behind, and he did his best to make sure we were protected and always in good hands. He, too, had to grieve.