Prince Harry & William recalled that day years later and reflected on how tough it was for them to contain their emotions.
Losing ones' mother at a young age is tough and it is normal for a child to cry out in pain and talk about their loss. However, Princes William and Harry were not allowed to do the same. When Diana died in 1997, both William and Harry were young teenagers. They were incredibly close to her and so, her loss was more then they could bear.
According to Cheat Sheet, both of them were expected to behave in a particular way as per the traditions of the royal family. 15-year-old William and 12-year-old Harry had to behave like royal gentlemen, even on the worst day of their life.
Like their father, the boys walked behind their mother's coffin with no strong emotions of sorrow or pain. The people, who watched them were amazed by their brave faces but no one knew the reason behind their straight faces.
Their father, Prince Charles gave the boys a bit of stern advice before they joined him in the procession. When Harry started sobbing, his father told him, “You don’t cry, you walk.”
Harry and William followed their father's advice, despite their uncontainable pain. According to royal press secretary Dick Arbiter, the royals were expected to swallow their grief and keep it away from the public's eye.
“There’s an old saying in royal circles, don’t wear prairie grief on a public sleeve. And they didn’t," said Arbiter, according to Express. He continued, "You’re probably screaming inside and hurting inside, but they carried that off with such dignity that people even today don’t understand how they did it," alluding to Prince Harry and William.
Diana's death came as a shock to the world and also to the royals. The news stunned them. The Queen reacted with “dazed bewilderment” when she received the call in the middle of the night. She didn't wake the boys immediately but waited to break the tragic news to them. She even removed all the radios and televisions away from them so they could not come across the news.
Though Harry and William followed the royal decorum, it affected them. The grief stuck with them for years. Prince Harry stated that he cries rarely thinking of that huge loss in his life.
“The first time I cried was at the funeral on the island. And only since then maybe once," said Harry. “I think it was a classic case of don’t let yourself think about your mum and the grief and the hurt that comes with it, because it’s never going to bring her back and it’s only going to make you more sad. People deal with grief in different ways and my way of dealing with it was by just basically shutting it out, locking it out," he continued, according to Cheat Sheet.
According to ABC News, Prince William and Harry reflected on that tragic day. Prince William said, "All I cared about was, I'd lost my mother, and I didn't want to be where I was ... When we go out and do things like that, in order not to completely and utterly break down, we have to put on a bit of a game face. And you have to be quite strong about it because otherwise, you're a walking mess."
Harry added, "Looking back now, probably the last thing I wanted to do was read what other people were saying about my mother. Yes, it was amazing. It was incredibly moving to know, but at that point, I wasn't there. I was still in shock."
Speaking of how they had to suppress their true emotions during the funeral, Prince Harry said, "I don't think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don't think it would happen today." William, on the other hand, said it was "one of the hardest things I have ever done."