Princess Diana and Prince Charles went through a painful, public divorce, all while their two children were very young. William, especially, was "mortified" when Diana gave a tell-all interview about the breakdown of her relationship with his father and how there were "three people" in the relationship (the third being, of course, Camilla Parker Bowles, whom Charles would later go on to marry).
But, by the same token, in that same 1995 BBC interview with Martin Bashir, Diana explained how she tried to tell Prince William about what happened honestly, but without blame and anger, in order to try and make the situation easier for him.
Diana said that she was candid, and answered all his questions as best she could.
I went to the school and put it to William, particularly, that if you find someone you love in life you must hang on to it and look after it, and if you were lucky enough to find someone who loved you then one must protect it.
William asked me what had been going on, and could I answer his questions, which I did. He said, was that the reason why our marriage had broken up?
And I said, well, there were three of us in this marriage, and the pressure of the media was another factor, so the two together were very difficult.
But although I still loved Papa I couldn’t live under the same roof as him, and likewise with him.
She wasn't sure at the time how it had impacted William. "[H]e's a child that's a deep thinker, and we don't know for a few years how it's gone in. But I put it in gently, without resentment or any anger," she said.
Unfortunately, Harry reportedly didn't find out about the affair until it was reported on national TV, which much have been much harder. But, despite the stress and angst, both sons reportedly doted on their mother and were always profoundly protective of her.
"Losing a close family member is one of the hardest experiences that anyone can ever endure. Never being able to say the word 'Mummy' again in your life sounds like a small thing. I, too, have felt—and still feel—the emptiness on such a day as Mother's Day," William explained after he became patron of the Child Bereavement Charity in 2014.
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