As Prince William and Prince Harry walked behind their grandmother’s casket on Monday, royal watchers across the world were transported back to their late mother’s funeral, in which the young princes — now 40 and 38, then 15 and 12, respectively — marched silently as they followed behind Diana’s coffin.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, that walk,” William said of the 1997 procession in the 2017 BBC documentary Diana, 7 Days. “It felt like she was almost walking along beside us to get through it.”
On Monday, King Charles III paid tribute to the late sovereign with a touching gesture that echoed one his sons made at their own mother’s funeral 25 years earlier. The new monarch placed a note on top of Elizabeth’s casket that read, “In loving and devoted memory, Charles R” — a callback to the Prince of Wales and Duke of Sussex’s card to Diana, which was also adorned on top of her coffin. “Mummy,” the princes wrote on the envelope.
Ahead of the longest-reigning monarch’s funeral, the royal family accompanied her coffin to Westminster Hall on Wednesday, September 14. William and Harry were among the individuals that walked alongside the casket, echoing the brothers’ march from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey before their mother’s funerary service.
The Duke of Cambridge remarked upon the similarities to a bystander following the queen’s procession to Westminster Hall. William spoke about “how difficult it was … and how it reminded him of his mum’s funeral,” an onlooker told The Telegraph.
Ahead of the longest-reigning monarch’s funeral, the royal family accompanied her coffin to Westminster Hall on Wednesday, September 14. were among the individuals that walked alongside the casket, echoing the brothers’ march from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey before their mother’s funerary service.
Elizabeth met her former daughter-in-law in 1980, just a few months before Charles, 73, proposed to his first wife. The two women had a complicated relationship over the years.
“In the early days, Diana was quite simply terrified of her mother-in-law. She kept the formal obsequies — dropping a deep curtsy each time they met — but otherwise kept her distance,” royal biographer Andrew Morton wrote in his 1992 book Diana: Her True Story — In Her Own Words.
The former teacher’s assistant married Charles in 1981, but the pair divorced in 1996 at the queen’s urging, following Charles’ affair with his now-wife, Queen Consort Camilla. One year after the split was finalized, Diana died tragically in a car crash.
“In the end, Diana was the one person the Queen never learned to handle,” royal expert Ingrid Seward wrote in her 2002 book, The Queen and Di. “She reacted badly to criticism — any rebuke by the Queen was taken as an instance of the family ganging up on her. Neither patience nor the silent, steely-eyed displeasure Elizabeth had learned to deploy with such withering effect made any impression on Diana. Yet by doing nothing, and by allowing Diana to disregard the constraints of convention that keep the monarchy in place, the Queen unwittingly allowed the Princess to run out of control.”
Scroll through to see the similarities between Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana’s funerals:
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