“Very sadly, a lot of my memories revolve around trying to cheer her up,” William says in the the new BBC documentary Diana, 7 Days. “I believe she cried more to do with the press intrusion than anything else in her life. The impact it was having on her that we would then see and feel was very difficult to understand,” William says . “She was subjected to treatment that frankly nowadays people would find utterly appalling.”
He adds, “We’d go looking for her, to talk to her, to play and she’d be crying — and when that was the case, it was to do with the press. She’d had a confrontation with photographers on the way to the gym or on the way outside just trying to do day-to-day stuff. The damage for me, being a little boy being 8, 9, 10 and wanting to protect your mother and finding it very difficult seeing her upset.
“Every single time she went out there’d be a pack of people waiting for her. I mean a pack of dogs, followed her, chased her, harassed her, called her names, spat at her, trying to get a reaction, to get that photograph of her lashing out, ger her upset.”
Virginia Clarke, Diana’s longtime friend, tells the documentary that in the early days the royal “did enjoy the press attention. She bought the papers most days, we would laugh and see, ‘Oh dear, that hasn’t worked.’ But it was all very new.”
Later in her life, particularly as her marriage to Prince Charles disintegrated, it became unbearable.
“It was very hard for William and I, knowing there was nothing we could do,” says Harry. “One of those really hard bad memories we were on the way to a tennis lesson. She was so fed up with being chased by guys in cars and motor bikes that she stopped a car on a side street, on the way to the Harbour Club, jumped out of the car, and went running up to these guys and shouted and screamed at them while they took photographs of her. That lasted for about five minutes . . . all I could hear was screaming.
“When she got back in the car, she couldn’t even talk to us, her eyes were just balling out. She was constantly crying. William and I looked at each other and stared out of the window. Is this the way it was supposed to be for the rest of our lives? It was hard.”
Diana died at age 36 on August 31, 1997, while being pursued by photographers through the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris. “One of the hardest things to come to terms with,” Harry says, “is the fact that the people who chased her into the tunnel were the same people that were taking photographs of her while she was still dying on the back seat of the car. William and I know that, we have been told that numerous times by people who know that was the case. She had quite a severe head injury but was still very much alive on the back seat and those who caused the accident instead of helping were taking photographs of her dying. And then those photographs made their way back to news desks in this country.”
Diana, 7 Days airs in the U.S. on September 1 on NBC.