Inside The Relationship Prince Harry Had With His Mother Diana

Every aspect of Prince Harry's relationships with his wife Meghan Markle, brother Prince William, and father King Charles III has been pored over in recent years, largely due to the ongoing inter-squabbles that have made the British royal family resemble a prime-time soap opera. But what about the relationship that can never be tainted by any tabloid-friendly war of words?

Harry famously lost his mother Princess Diana at the age of just 12 thanks to a Parisian car crash which also claimed the lives of her then-partner Dodi Fayed and her driver Henri Paul in 1997. Although he initially kept quiet about the brief amount of time they spent together, the royal has recently felt able to open up more, discussing everything from her laughter and unique fashion sense to her protective streak and determination to live a normal life as possible. Using only the words of Harry and Diana herself, here's a look at what we know about their special bond.

Prince Harry doesn't have many clear memories of Princess Diana

One of the most striking revelations in the first episode of the Netflix original "Harry and Meghan" was Prince Harry's admission that he doesn't have many clear memories of his late mother Princess Diana. "It was almost like, internally, I sort of blocked them out," the royal said in the 2022 docuseries (via Independent).

However, the royal does recall that his childhood was filled with happiness, adventure, and laughter, with the latter, in particular, something which his mom was always keen to inspire: "But I always remember her laugh, her cheeky laugh. Her always saying to me, 'You can get in trouble, just don't get caught.' I'll always be that cheeky person inside."

In fact, Harry has stronger memories of being ambushed by the paparazzi than his mother, particularly the vacations where they would be caught by surprise by a photographer. "Within the family, within the system, the advice that's always given is don't react," the prince said about royal protocol. "Don't feed into it."

Prince Harry remembers last interaction with Princess Diana

Following their parents' split, both Prince William and Prince Harry regularly received nightly phone calls from their mother Princess Diana whenever they were away from her. As he recalled in the 2017 documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy," this was how the future Duke of Sussex would speak to his mother for the very last time.

"I can't really, necessarily, remember what I said," Harry said (via ABC News) about the chat his 12-year-old self had with his mother shortly before her untimely death. "But all I do remember is probably, you know, regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was. And if I'd known that was the last time I was going to speak to my mother — the things I would have said to her. I have to sort of deal with that for the rest of my life."

In the same documentary, William confirmed that he and his brother were at Scotland's Balmoral Castle at the time with their cousins. These calls were later recreated in the fifth and final season of Netflix's award-winning drama "The Crown."

Prince Harry stayed in denial about Princess Diana's death

Prince Harry was only 12 years only when his mother Princess Diana tragically died, so it's little surprise to learn he struggled to cope with such a monumental loss at such a young age. Indeed, in 2023, the royal told "60 Minutes" host Anderson Cooper that he didn't truly accept his mum's death until he was 23.

"I just refused to accept she was gone," said Harry (via Independent). "Part of, she would never do this to us, but also, part of, maybe this is all part of a plan." The "Spare" author also revealed how for many years he still harbored hope that he'd receive a phone call from an alive and well Diana who'd then disclose her whereabouts. In the end, it took a trip to the French capital, and the scene of the fatal accident, in particular, for him to be able to accept the reality of her death.

It was a subject Harry also opened up about while speaking to Michael Strahan on "Good Morning America" that same year. "I say 100 percent it's a defense mechanism, right," he said of his initial unwillingness to believe his mother had died. "I wish I had the ability or the opportunity to do some form of therapy, or at least be able to talk more about losing my mum and celebrating her life. But who's to say that at age 12 whether I would've even said yes to that."

Princess Diana was always affectionate toward Prince Harry

Prince Harry has often spoken about the fact that his father Prince Charles couldn't even bring himself to hug his own sons upon delivering the news that their mother Princess Diana had died. However, lack of affection isn't a problem that Harry ever had to deal with when it came to his other parent.

In the 2017 documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy," Harry warmly recalled how Diana often used to show her love. "She would just engulf you and squeeze you as tight as possible," he said (via ABC News). "And being as short as I was then, there was no escape, you were there and you were there for as long as she wanted to hold you."

A clearly emotional Harry continued, "Even talking about it now, I can feel the hugs that she used to give us and, you know, I miss that, I miss that feeling, I miss that part of a family, I miss having that mother ... to be able to give you those hugs and give you that compassion that I think everybody needs."

Prince Harry still thinks about Princess Diana every day

It's now been more than 25 years since Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris, sending the world into a collective state of mourning like never before. But while appearing in the 2017 documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Life and Legacy," her son Prince Harry revealed that she still occupies his mind on a daily basis.

In one of the first times that the royal openly discussed the difficulty of losing his mother at the age of just 12, the royal said (via ABC News), "There's not a day that William and I ... don't wish that she was still around, and we wonder what kind of a mother she would be now, and what kind of a public role she would have, and what a difference she would be making."

And as you would expect, Harry still puts her on a pedestal, too: "She was our mum. She still is our mum. And of course, as a son I would say this, she was the best mum in the world. She smothered us with love, that's for sure."

Prince Harry appreciated how Princess Diana tried to protect him

As Meghan Markle found out after marrying Prince Harry, one of the major downsides of being a royal family member is the relentless intrusion and scrutiny from the press. That's something that her husband has had to deal with since being born, although as he revealed in the Netflix documentary series "Harry and Meghan," Princess Diana did everything she could to shield him and his brother William from the glare of the spotlight.

"My mom did such a good job trying to protect us," Prince Harry said (via Elle). "She took it upon herself to basically confront these people. I think she had a lived experience of how she was struggling living that life. She felt compelled to talk about it."

Harry also spoke about how the interest in his mother's private life hugely intensified after she and Prince Charles officially split. "The moment that she divorced, the moment she left the institution, then she was by herself," he said. "Yeah, she may have been one of the most influential, powerful women in the world but she was completely exposed to this." The prince admitted that, for a time, he didn't believe he would be able to find a partner who'd be willing to put up with pressure like what his mother had gone through.

Princess Diana tried to give Prince Harry the most normal life possible

It no doubt seemed like an impossible mission at the time — how on earth do you instill a sense of normalcy into unarguably the most famous family in the world, particularly when your sons were in line to the throne of England? Nevertheless, as Prince Harry revealed in the 2017 documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Life and Legacy," Princess Diana sure tried her darndest.

"She made the decision that no matter what, despite all the difficulties of growing up in that limelight and on that stage, she was going to ensure that both of us had as normal life as possible," Harry said (via E! News). So how exactly did the then Princess of Wales try to achieve that? Well, it turns out that fast food and Ireland's greatest New Age export played a significant part.

Harry explained that some her of tactics included "taking us for a burger every now and then or sneaking us into the cinema, or driving through the country lanes with the roof down in her old school BMW to listen to Enya."

Prince Harry believes Princess Diana would be heartbroken over her sons' fallout

The Shakesperean rift between Prince William and Prince Harry has inevitably attracted just as much attention in the press as anything Princess Diana did during her 36 years. The younger of the royals admits that their mother would be devastated if she could see just how much their relationship has collapsed.

Speaking to ABC's "Good Morning America" to promote his book "Spare" in 2023, Harry was asked how his mother would have felt about the rift between him and William that reportedly started seven years earlier over Harry's burgeoning romance with Meghan Markle. "I think she would be sad," Harry said. "I think she would be heartbroken that it's ended up where it's ended up."

Harry also acknowledged that his mom would have been equally saddened at how her sons had both used the media as a weapon against each other. The pair had previously made a pact never to do such a thing. But with rumors of William's team leaking stories about his brother to the press and Harry making several damaging allegations in return in his book, it's fair to say that this has well and truly been broken.

Prince Harry 'received' a message from Princess Diana from beyond the grave

One of the most surprising revelations from Prince Harry's 2023 memoir "Spare" concerned a visit to a medium. Stricken with grief over the death of his mother Princess Diana, the royal decided to seek some spiritual help from a lady who "claimed to have powers." She subsequently delivered a message from beyond the grave.

"You're living the life she couldn't," Harry was told (per The Guardian). "You're living the life she wanted for you." The prince doesn't go into detail of the when or where, or indeed name the woman in question. And he admits that he "recognized the high-percentage chance of humbuggery" at the time, but that he instantly "felt an energy around her" from the moment they met.

The medium also told Harry that Diana was with him and that she understood her son was "looking for clarity" and had "so many questions." The royal was comforted by the reference to a festive ornament that the spirit of Diana had apparently witnessed being broken, too. Indeed, Harry recalled how his son Archie had recently tried to fix a Christmas tree decoration shaped like Queen Elizabeth II. "Your mother says she had a bit of a giggle about that," came the response.

Princess Diana recognized Prince Harry was a rebel

Princess Diana was renowned for her determination to break royal protocol — see everything from her handshake with AIDS patients to her barefoot appearance at a school sports day. And as evidenced by Prince Harry's recent exploits, the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree when it comes to her youngest.

Diana recognized early on that Harry had a mind of his own. In one of several letters she penned to Cyril Dickman, a friend and Buckingham Palace steward, that were later auctioned off, the Princess of Wales spoke of her eight-year-old's rebellious behavior. "The boys are well and enjoying boarding school a lot," she wrote (via Vanity Fair). "Although Harry is constantly in trouble!"

In his Apple TV+ docuseries "The Me You Can't See," Harry acknowledged that he'd inherited this particular trait from his mother. Referring to his breakaway from the rest of the royals, he said (via People), "Family members have said just play the game and your life will be easier. But I have a hell of a lot of my mum in me. I feel as though I am outside of the system but I'm still stuck there. The only way to free yourself and break out is to tell the truth."

Prince Harry compared Meghan Markle to Princess Diana

Prince Harry isn't the only member of his close family to take after his late mother. According to the man himself, wife Meghan Markle also has plenty in common with Princess Diana, particularly when it comes to their emotional intelligence.

In the first episode of the Netflix docuseries "Harry and Meghan," the royal explained (via House Beautiful), "So much of what Meghan is and how she is so similar to my mom. She has the same compassion. She has the same empathy. She has the same confidence. She has this warmth about her."

In the second episode, Harry recalled seeing Diana's reaction to all the press intrusion in very much the same way as his partner. "Back in the day, my mum was in the back of the car, going to engagements in floods of tears," he said. "And then my dad's saying, 'Almost there.' And 30 seconds to wipe the tears away, slap on some makeup, and then the door opens and smile, everything's fine.'" He also spoke of the first time that Meghan realized that she'd become the new focal point of the royal family after being splashed on the front page of a British newspaper. "She was like, 'But, it's not my fault,' And I said, 'I know. And my mum felt the same way,'" Harry recalled.

Prince Harry's birth was instrumental in the breakdown of Princess Diana and Prince Charles' marriage

In 1992, Princess Diana agreed to be recorded while conducting several interviews for a book about her life. And in a transcript published for a revised edition of Andrew Morton's "Diana: Her True Story," she described Prince Harry (via Newsweek) as "a complete joy."

That was a stark contrast to the initial reaction that Prince Charles had toward his youngest son. Diana revealed that her ex-husband had been hugely disappointed that their second child wasn't a girl. She said, "Harry arrived. Harry had red hair, Harry was a boy. First comment was: 'Oh God, it's a boy.' Second comment: 'And he's even got red hair.'"

Diana also opened up (per Page Six) about the time that her own mother also argued with Charles over his reaction to Harry's birth: "She said, 'You should realize how lucky you are to have a child that's normal.' Ever since that day, the shutters have come down." The late Princess of Wales said that it was around this time that she realized her marriage was over.

Princess Diana allowed Prince Harry to be a kid

In his 2023 memoir "Spare," Prince Harry discussed how his mother did her best to ensure that he and his brother Prince William were allowed to be kids. In fact, he agreed with a friend that Princess Diana was often a big kid herself.

Harry spoke fondly of the mornings he used to spend at his mom's Kensington Palace apartment, and in particular, the fun he used to have in her bedroom. "I remembered that she had a waterbed, and Willy and I would jump up and down on the mattress, screaming, laughing, our hair standing straight up," he wrote (via Vanity Fair). And the good times didn't stop when they all headed into the kitchen.

"I remembered the breakfasts together, Mummy loving grapefruit and lychees, seldom drinking coffee or tea," Harry wrote. "I remembered that after breakfast we'd embark on the working day with her, sitting by her side during her first phone calls, auditing her business meetings." While Diana often seemed like the height of decorum, her youngest admitted that she liked nothing more than participating in burping contests with her sons.

Prince Harry has one question he'd love to ask Princess Diana

While reminiscing about his childhood for the 2017 documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy," Prince Harry revealed there was one question he would love to ask his late mom. Perhaps surprisingly, it related to her fashion sense.

It wouldn't be regarding Princess Diana's own wardrobe, obviously. The royal was renowned for being one of the most stylish women in the world. No, Harry wanted to know why she dressed him and his brother William up in such garish clothes. "It was weird shorts and little shiny shoes with the old clip on," he said (via Hello!) "Looking back at the photos it just makes me laugh and I think, 'How could you do that to us?'"

Harry continued, "And funnily enough we got to the age when William would turn around and go, 'This is ridiculous, I'm the older brother. Why do I have to be dressed the same as him?' And I'm sort of thinking, 'Hang on a second, if you're going to dress differently, I'm not going to be the only person dressed like this. This is ridiculous!'" The royal believed that his mother took great pleasure in dressing her children in such a manner, given her fun-loving nature.