Prince Harry had to grow up too soon to emotionally support his mom from a very young age.
Princess Diana was many things. She was the Princess of Wales a fashion icon, a trailblazer, a humanitarian, a role model, a wife, and most importantly, a mother. And she was very well-known as a hands-on mother who loved her children, Prince William and Prince Harry, with every fiber of her being. But there were times when she was just a lost woman... one who unintentionally depended on her young firstborn to take care of her at times she felt overwhelmed and lonely.
It was a well-known fact that not all was well in Diana's personal life. She didn't have the stiff upper life that was customary for the British royal family, and she was open about her struggles with her friends and also the public. However, the most heartbreaking moments were handled by a young Prince William, who was left either picking up the pieces or being her shoulder to cry on. Despite being a child, who should not have had much to worry about, he paid a heavy price caused by the unhappy marriage between his parents.
According to Express UK, the Duke of Cambridge allegedly had to push tissues under the bathroom door once when he could hear his mother sobbing. Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond claimed that William used to say, "It'll be alright mummy, it'll be alright, I'll look after you." She explained that "it was all the wrong way round for William. He was having to comfort his mother when she should have been looking after him — he was just a little boy."
As per Express UK, Veteran royal correspondent Robert Jobson, in his 2006 book William’s Princess, elaborated more on what Prince William's childhood entailed. “The princess proudly told friends that William was her ‘soulmate.’ It was a phrase that left many distinctly uneasy. Some even cautioned her against confiding so unreservedly in her eldest son," he wrote. “But she insisted that her boys hear the truth from her lips. It was not solely a quirk of Diana’s personality that she chose her son as confidant."
"Some psychologists claim that when a marriage is rocky, the mother often turns to her oldest child for the emotional support and advice she would normally hope to receive from her husband. This is what Diana did and sometimes she simply went too far, burdening William with problems that he should never have been asked to shoulder. He once told her that he wanted to be a policeman so that he could protect her. Her heart must have ached with love at his earnest words," Jobson added.
But according to Howard Hodgson, as he wrote in Charles — The Man Who Will Be King, Diana’s own upbringing was traumatic for a similar reason. Diana was a child of a broken home as well, when her parents, Earl John Spencer and Frances Roche, went through a bitter divorce in 1969 after her mother left her family for her lover, Peter Shand Kydd. A turbulent custody battle took place soon after which Earl Spencer eventually won, after Frances’ own mother provided evidence against her. This resulted in Diana spending school holidays and weekends shuttling between her parents' respective homes. The princess' own love triangle with Prince Charles and his lover, Camilla Parker Bowles (now wife), was history repeating itself.
And it certainly influenced Diana's style of mothering. Mr. Hodgson explained that Frances would “speak to the children on the telephone daily and saw them most weekends.” However, he added that it could create a “negative effect.” “On occasion, she would sometimes burst into tears and spend time pouring out her problems to them. This had the effect of giving out unpredictable doses of love or stress, and it clearly made an impression on the dramatic side of Diana’s character. Diana was to put Prince William through the same experience at an equally young age.” Subsequently, she became a “semi-detached mother,” according to the author. In fact, Princess Diana and her mother continued to fight until her death.
Despite this, no one could deny how much the Princess of Wales loved her two children. One could see it in her eyes when she looked at them, the way she held them, and the way she participated in activities involving them. Diana may have had her flaws but her adoration for her kids was non-negotiable. And her death broke the very core of their being. According to People, “The shock is the biggest thing,” Prince William said in the BBC documentary Mind Over Marathon, of his mother's sudden death. “I still feel, 20 years later about my mother, I still have shock within me . . . People say shock can’t last that long, but it does. You never get over it. It’s such an unbelievably big moment in your life that it never leaves you, you just learn to deal with it.”
As for Prince Harry, who was said to be closer to his mother, he told The Telegraph, “My way of dealing with it was sticking in my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help, it’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back," according to People. Now, 23 years after her passing, the brothers have families of their own and seem to be very happy.
Rest in peace, Princess Diana.