Prince Harry was 12 when his mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a car crash in Paris. It was August 1997, and Harry was at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with other members of the royal family. In his book, “Spare,” Harry described the moment his father, Prince Charles, woke him up to tell him what had happened. Anderson Cooper asked Harry about it during their 60 Minutes interview.
“In the book you write, ‘He says, “They tried, darling boy. I’m afraid she didn’t make it.” These phrases remain in my mind like darts on a board,’ you say,” Cooper said. “Did you cry?”
“No. No. Never shed a single tear at that point,” Harry said. “I was in shock, you know? Twelve years old. Sort of— 7, 7: 30 in the morning, early. Your father comes in, sits on your bed, puts his hand on your knee and tells you, ‘There’s been an accident.’ I couldn’t believe.”
“You write in the book,” Cooper said, “‘Pa didn’t hug me. He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances. But his hand did fall once more on my knee and he said, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ But after that, nothing was OK for a long time.'”
“No, nothing, nothing was OK,” Harry said.
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Harry said his memories of the next few days are fragmented, but he distinctly recalls greeting mourners outside Kensington Palace the day before his mother’s funeral.
“When you see those videos now,” Cooper asked, “what do you think?”
“I think it’s bizarre, because I see William and me smiling. I remember the guilt that I felt,” Harry said.
Harry said “the fact that the people that we were meeting were showing more emotion than we were showing, maybe more emotion than we even felt,” was the reason for his feelings of guilt.
“They were crying, but you weren’t,” Cooper said.
“There was a lot of tears. I talk about how wet people’s hands were. And I couldn’t understand it at first,” Harry said. “Their hands were wet from wiping their own tears away. I do remember one of the strangest parts to it was taking flowers from people and then placing those flowers with the rest of them. As if I was some sort of middle person for their grief. And that really stood out for me.”
The funeral, on a cool September morning, was watched by an estimated 2.5 billion people around the world. Perhaps the most indelible image: Prince Harry and his brother Prince William walking behind their mother’s casket on its way to Westminster Abbey. Cooper asked Harry what he remembered about the walk.
“How quiet it was,” Harry said with a sigh. “I remember, the occasional wail and screaming of someone. I remember the horse hooves on the road. The bridles of the horses, the gun carriage, the wheels, the occasional gravel stone underneath your shoe. But mainly the— the silence.”
After the service, Princess Diana’s body was brought to her family’s ancestral estate, Althorp.
“Once my mother’s coffin actually went into the ground, that was the first time that I actually cried,” Harry said. “There was never another time.”
“All through your teenage years,” Cooper asked, “you didn’t cry about it?”
“No,” Harry said.
It would take years for Harry to accept his mother’s passing.
CBS Mornings will have more from Anderson Cooper’s 60 Minutes interview with Prince Harry Monday.
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