Walking behind Princess Diana's casket at her funeral was traumatic for her young sons Prince William and Prince Harry, but 20 years after her shocking death, the princes have concluded they're glad they did it.
Only two months ago, Harry told a Newsweek reporter that no child should be expected to walk in his mother's funeral cortege as millions watched on the streets of London. "I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today," he said then.
But in excerpts of an interview for the BBC film Diana, 7 Days, released Wednesday, Harry seems to have had a change of heart. He said the princes' role in the funeral was the result of a "group decision" by his family.
"Genuinely, I don't have an opinion whether that was right or wrong — I'm glad I was part of it," Harry said. "Looking back on it now, I'm very glad I was part of it."
The two princes, then 15 and 12, now 35 and 32, have been speaking about their mother in public for the first time as Britain and the world mark the 20th anniversary of her death, on Aug. 31, 1997, with a deluge of articles, films, books and memorial events.
The young royals also spoke about their father, Prince Charles, for the first time during the anniversary coverage. Their sympathetic comments contradicted the longstanding notion among some Diana followers that the Prince of Wales was indifferent to his ex-wife's death.
"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. "How you deal with that I don't know but, you know, he was there for us.
Will and Harry, who have said this will be the last time they speak publicly about their mother, agreed to be interviewed by filmmakers from ITV and from the BBC, to mark the anniversary.
The ITV film, Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, first aired in the USA on HBO on July 24. The two-hour BBC film, which has been acquired by NBC, will be shown in Britain on Aug. 27 and in the USA on Sept. 1.
William was most resistant to the "very long, lonely walk" and had to be coaxed by his grandfather, Prince Philip to join him, Harry, Charles and his maternal uncle Earl Spencer in the cortege. He understood his duty as a prince but he would really have preferred to retreat to a room and cry, he said.
The princes wanted their mother to be proud of them, he added.
"I just kept thinking about what she would want and that she'd be proud of Harry and I being able to go through it. Effectively she was there with us. It felt like she was almost walking along beside us, to get us through it," William said.
During the procession, William kept his head down and hoped his bangs hid his face, he said, like "a tiny bit of safety blanket. I know it sounds ridiculous, but at the time I felt if I looked at the floor and my hair came down over my face, no one could see me."
Contributing: The Associated Press
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