The amount of bad blood between Prince Charles and Princess Diana was enough to fuel a Ryan Murphy show, but could the future King of England really be so callous as to speak badly about his ex-wife right after her death?
According to Robert Lacey’s new book Battle of Brothers: The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, the answer is an unfortunate yes.
Per the book, in the immediate aftermath of Diana’s passing, her brother Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, apparently found himself battling the heir to the throne on his sister’s behalf — particularly over her children Princes Harry and William walking in her funeral procession.
According to Lacey:
“Spencer felt quite sure that Diana would have been horrified at the idea of her sons having to endure such an ordeal. He had already told Charles as much. … [One call] had ended with the earl slamming down the phone on his brother-in-law after Charles had made a particularly offensive comment about Diana.”
Of course, this report is unconfirmed by Spencer or the royal family, but if true, it’s unbelievably cold. To make an “offensive comment” about someone’s recently deceased sister, let alone your ex-wife and the mother of your children!? That’s just low, Charles!
The book did not say what the rude comment was but continued:
“Prince Charles had no doubt that he should walk the long route with both his sons beside him. But Uncle Charles Spencer did not agree. He was already angry on his family’s behalf that his sister’s funeral had been hijacked into a royal occasion, and he was particularly opposed to the idea that his young nephews should have to walk the best part of a mile behind their mother’s coffin through the streets.”
In his recollection of the event years later for Newsweek, Harry was clearly deeply affected by it. He said:
“My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television. I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”
Elsewhere in the book, Lacey wrote that being “damaged by their upbringings” led to the eventual rift between the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex. While the death of their mother was surely a foundational trauma for the young princes, living life in the royal spotlight presented plenty of other challenges — even, sadly, by Diana’s own hand.
Another excerpt details how their mother fired their beloved nanny, Barbara “Baba” Barnes. Barnes was like a “surrogate mother” to the boys, writes Lacey, caring for them constantly and teaching them to “walk, talk and read.” But when Diana sense she was becoming “too possessive,” she terminated the caretaker and forbade Barnes from ever contacting her sons again. For William and Harry, it was as if Barnes had “vanished into thin air.”
“Following the death of Diana in 1997, people remarked on how well the two young princes reacted to the unjust and unexpected removal of a mother figure from their lives — surprised, bewildered and distraught though they were.”
In Lacey’s opinion, it was because the siblings “had a little practice” with such a loss.
How tragic! We can’t help but feel for the princes — it’s clear why they’re so protective of their own children today.
[Image via Anwar Hussein/WENN]