In 1993, Princess Diana Stepped Back From Royal Duty in an Eerily Similar Way to Meghan & Harry

Yesterday, Prince Harry spoke candidly about his and Meghan Markle's decision to step back as senior royals of the British Royal Family. Princess Diana Made a Similar Speech in 1993.

Microphone, Audio equipment, Public speaking, Speech, Photography, Adaptation, Smile, Plant, Performance, Ceremony,
(Image credit: Princess Diana Archive)

Yesterday, Prince Harry spoke candidly about his and Meghan Markle's decision to step back as senior royals of the British Royal Family. He spoke to Sentebale supporters about his sadness and gratitude, as well as his firm belief that this was the right decision. What's interesting is that when Princess Diana, in 1993, stepped back from royal duties because of intense media scrutiny, she made a LOT of very similar points. Obviously, we don't know if Harry looked at the speech before writing down his own, but I'm speculating here—the similarities in language are likely not a coincidence, and Harry mentions his mother specifically during his statement. Let's look at the similarities.

Here's Diana:

  • "In the past twelve years, I can honestly say, that one of my greatest pleasures has been my association with people like yourselves."
  • "My debt of gratitude to you all is immense. I hope, in some way, I've been of service in return."
  • "A year ago, I spoke of my desire to continue with my work unchanged...However, life and circumstances alter and I hope you will forgive me if I use this opportunity to share with you my plans for the future which now indeed have changed."
  • "I was not aware of how overwhelming that attention would become. Nor the extent to which it would affect both my public duties and my personal life, in a manner, that's been hard to bear."
  • "I attach great importance to my charity work and intend to focus on a smaller range of areas in the future. Over the next few months I will be seeking a more suitable way of combining a meaningful public role, with hopefully, a more private life."
  • "I hope you can find it in your hearts to understand and to give me the time and space that has been lacking in recent years."
  • "I couldn't stand here today and make this sort of statement without acknowledging the heartfelt support I've been given by the public in general. Your kindness and generous affection has carried me through some of the most difficult periods."

And here's Harry:

  • "The U.K. is my home and a place that I love. That will never change. I’ve grown up feeling supported by so many of you and I’ve watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms as you saw me find the love and happiness that I’d hoped for all my life."
  • "Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible."
  • "I’ve accepted this, knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it had to come to, that I would step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life."
  • "When I lost my mum 23 years ago, you took me under your wing. You’ve looked out for me for so long...It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service."
  • "You've looked out for me for so long, but the media is a powerful force, and my hope is one day our collective support for each other can be more powerful because this is so much bigger than just us."
  • "I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear and dedicates his life to supporting the causes, charities and military communities that are so important to me."
  • "We are taking a leap of faith—thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step."
  • "My work and commitment for this charity, that I founded 14 years ago now, will never falter."

Both of them also thanked the Queen (interestingly, if you look at the full transcript of Diana's speech, that line was added by the Queen) and spoke to the tradition that formed the basis of their lives, while asserting themselves as taking a different path. It gives a strong, unspoken undercurrent to Harry's decision to protect his family and still support the causes he loves—just like his mother did.

Excerpts of Diana's speech are here:

And here's Harry:

It makes the current news about Harry and Meghan all the more poignant, TBH.

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Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.