Charles 'was there for us' when Diana died, Prince Harry says

Prince Harry has paid tribute to his father, Prince Charles and the Queen for the way they handled the fallout from the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

The Prince – who was 12 years old at the time - also spoke of his anger about the pictures which were taken of his mother as she lay dying in the back of her car in Paris.

Both Harry and his brother Prince William have been speaking in a BBC documentary which will be broadcast just before the twentieth anniversary of their mother’s death.

In Diana, 7 Days, they recount the days between her death on that Saturday night in Paris – and her funeral, a week later.

And they reflect on the much criticised decision by the Queen to keep the family at Balmoral Castle when the country was calling for her and the rest of the Royal Family to return to London.

In the previous documentary on ITV in which the princes spoke for the first – and last time – of their mother’s legacy, neither mentioned the role of their father, Prince Charles during the 90 minute programme.

In this programme, Prince Harry did speak about the Prince of Wales: “One of the hardest things for a parent to have to do is to tell your children that your other parent has died.”

Harry said: “He was there for us. He was the one of the two left. He tried to do his best and to make sure that we were protected and looked after but he was going through the same grieving process as well.”

Prince William told the programme he asked himself again and again: “Why me, what have I done?”

Harry said it is “one of the hardest things to come to terms with” that the people who chased his mother into the tunnel on that August night in 1997 were the same people who were taking pictures of her after the accident.

He spoke of how his mother had suffered “a severe head injury but she was still very much alive on the back seat”.

He says the photographers were taking pictures, “instead of helping”.

The princes previously told the ITV programme Diana, Our Mother of their last phone call with Diana in the hours before her death and their lifelong regret that it was so short.

Of the controversial decision by the Queen to keep them at Balmoral away from the press and public in the days immediately after the car crash, the Duke of Cambridge says “our grandmother wanted to protect us.”

He said she did it to make sure the brothers “had the privacy to mourn and to collect our thoughts”.

Speaking of their time at Balmoral, Prince Harry said: “It was a case of how do we let the boys grieve in privacy and at the same time, when is the right time for them to put on their prince hats and carry out duties to mourn not just their mother but the Princess of Wales in a very public audience?”

Prince William said: “It was a very hard decision for my grandmother to make. She felt very torn between being the grandmother to William and Harry and her Queen role. And I think everyone was surprised and taken aback by the scale of what happened and the nature of how quickly it all happened plus the fact that she [Diana] was, or had been, challenging the Royal Family for many years beforehand.”

It is an view shared by one of Princess Diana’s sisters.

The Princess of Wales with her sister Lady Sarah McCorquodale at Wimbledon in 1981. Credit: PA

Lady Sarah McCorquodale told the programme that “if you were the grandmother of a 12 year old and a 15 year old whose mother had just been killed in a car crash, she [the Queen] did absolutely the right thing.”

Lady Sarah added: “Why would you bring them to London? Why don’t you let them get over the start of the shock in the bosom of their family?”

The other controversial decision of that week was to allow the young princes to walk behind their mother’s coffin to Westminster Abbey on the day of the funeral.

Prince of Wales, Prince Harry and Prince William walking behind the funeral cortege of Diana, Princess of Wales. Credit: PA

Harry has previously been critical of that decision but he told the programme: “I’m glad I was part of it.”

William said it was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.

The anniversary of the death of Princess Diana is on August 31st.

The programme Diana, 7 Days will be broadcast on BBC 1 on Sunday 27th August at 7:30pm.