Prince Harry recently revealed that he hated having to walk behind his mother’s coffin before her funeral nearly 20 years ago.
Now Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Charles Spencer, has alleged that the royal family lied to him and told him that his nephews wanted to take those sombre steps during the procession that was blasted across millions of TV screens around the world.
He also revealed that there have been four ghoulish attempts to rob his sister’s grave in the past two decades.
In an exclusive interview with Newsweek last month, Prince Harry revealed what it was like walking behind his mom’s coffin at the age of 12.
His then 15-year-old brother, Prince William, father, Prince Charles, paternal grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, and uncle Charles joined him.
“My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” he recalled.
“I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”
In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, on Wednesday, the earl revealed that he objected to his nephews doing that, but was told that they wanted to.
Charles, 53, said it was a “bizarre and cruel thing” for the princes to have to do and that it was “the most horrifying half an hour of my life”.
He added: “I was lied to and told that they wanted to do it, which, of course, they didn’t but I didn’t realise that.”
Charles described, in detail, what those emotional moments were like.
He said: “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.
“It was this sort of bizarre circumstance where we were told you just have to look straight ahead.
“But the feeling, the sort of absolute crashing tidal wave of grief coming at you as you went down this sort of tunnel of deep emotion, it was really harrowing actually and I still have nightmares about it now.
“So there was this sort of inner turmoil of thinking, ‘My God this is ghastly,’ but then the point of thinking these two boys are doing this and it must be a million times worse for them.”
On that day, September 6, 1997, members of the public could be heard moaning and wailing, screaming out Diana’s name. They were sounds Charles will never forget.
The earl said: “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.”
Two decades later, the public’s fascination with his sister hasn’t ended, and Charles even said that it has taken a ghoulish turn at times, as there have been four attempts to rob the princess’ grave.
The mother of two is buried on the grounds of her family’s Althorp estate of her childhood home in Northamptonshire, on an island in the middle of a lake.
Charles said: “There was such a sort of whipped-up feeling of emotion everywhere that I was very worried about where we could safely bury her.
“We’ve had four attempted break-ins towards her body in the last 20 years, and I’m very glad we’ve seen all of them off.
“There are some odd people out there and keeping her right here is the safest place.”
One of the most memorial moments of Princess Diana’s funeral was when Charles delivered a blistering eulogy at Westminster Abbey, taking aim at the press and the royal family, pledging that the princess’s “blood family” would make sure that William and Harry were not “simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly as [Diana] planned.”
Asked if the Queen – who is also his godmother – ever said anything to him about the eulogy, which received applause from the crowd outside, Charles said: “Somebody I know very well said to her, ‘What do you think?’ and she said, ‘He had every right to say whatever he felt, it was his sister’s funeral.’ So that’s all.”