While the world watched the public mourning and funeral for Princess Diana after her shocking death in 1997, the princess’ youngest son, then 12-year-old Prince Harry, said he believed his mom hadn’t died.
Describing his thought as “magical thinking,” Harry, now 38, writes in his new memoir Spare that he believed his mom was “hiding.”
In a wide-ranging interview Monday, Harry told Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan that his disbelief that Diana had died was a “defense mechanism.”
“I think for anyone, especially if you’re a kid, I was 12 years old,” he said. “I refused to accept that was what had happened.”
Diana died at age 36 following a car crash in a Paris tunnel, during which paparazzi pursued her.
In Spare, which will be released globally on Tuesday, Harry describes the morning of Aug. 31, 1997, when his father, now King Charles III, delivered the devastating news that Diana died.
“As a dad…I have a huge amount of sympathy and compassion and understanding now about how ill-equipped I guess my dad was, how ill-equipped anybody would be in that situation,” Harry explained.
Harry said Charles waited to tell him about Diana until the morning, when he woke him and shared the news.
Harry writes in Spare about how he suffered after Diana’s death, including his inability for many years to cry over her death.
Looking back, he told Strahan he wonders if his experience would have differed had he been able to seek professional counseling after his mom died.
“I wish I had the ability or the opportunity to do some form of therapy, or at least be able to talk more about losing my mum and celebrating her life,” he said. “But who’s to say that at age 12 whether I would’ve even said yes to that.”
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