Princes William and Henry walked behind her mother’s coffin to prevent attacks against their father
Princes William and Harry paraded behind her mother’s coffin at the mass funeral held in September 1997, to prevent verbal and physical attacks against the Prince of Wales. Elizabeth II’s advisors forced the presence of the two children from the failed marriage to accompany their father and contain possible angry reactions from the people against him since many British people blamed the Heir for having pushed Lady Diana towards fatality.
This is stated in a new volume of the diaries of Alastair Campbell, who was Tony Blair’s press officer. In his new installment, he reveals, among other things, the details of those dramatic days in which the Monarchy found itself on the ropes due to the impressive popular reaction to the sudden death of the “People’s Princess”, as Blair then baptized her.
According to Campbell, in the conversations held by the prime minister with the Royal Family, secluded in the Scottish properties of Balmoral, the Queen’s husband expressed himself as “clearly nervous” due to the uncertainty about how to face her funeral. At Balmoral they did not agree on how to develop the burial protocol: should the children, then aged 15 and 12, walk behind the coffin? Should they all do it, together with Prince Charles, by car? One of Isabel II’s secretaries “said that if William was not walking, ‘for obvious and understandable reasons’ neither could Charles.”
To complicate the ceremony, Charles Spencer, Lady Diana’s brother, insisted that he would walk following the coffin, so the Prince of Wales had no choice but to do the same, and therefore so did his children. “They realized that if Guillermo did not go after the coffin, they had a real problem because Carlos had to accompany Spencer.”
Thus, Charles’s then-press chief, Sandy Henney, went to Balmoral to convince the young princes that they should appear walking with her father. Henney tried to overcome the strong resistance of William, who at that time “hated” the press for his mother’s death and believed that his appearance in the procession was only intended for journalists, arguing that that was what the late princess I would have liked.
“Henney obviously explained that this was what her mother would have wanted, while there was also the fact that it would be to avoid the risk of Carlos being publicly attacked,” Campbell wrote in her diary. “Guillermo refused to talk to anyone and was consumed with a total hatred of the press… I perceived that the boys remained firm and believed that everything was being done for the media and the people, not for his mother. ”. Finally, they were convinced.
In those negotiations between Downing Street and Balmoral, “Blair felt that his relationship with the Queen was good, but that Charles made her say things against us.” Among the arguments delicately put forward by the “premier” so that Elizabeth II would realize the wisdom of publicly showing greater warmth towards her late daughter-in-law, Blair told the Queen: “There can be nothing more miserable than feeling what you feel.” and see their motives called into question.”
A month later, when everything had already happened, Blair assured Campbell that Elizabeth II had told him: “Now Blair, no more of that nonsense about the people’s princess because I am the people’s Queen.”