Prince William Once Told Diana to Leave the U.K.

A “tearful” Diana told a pack of photographers this during the last summer of her life.

Prince William Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty Images)


As a boy, Prince William was often a counselor for his mother Princess Diana as she dealt with the struggles of a failing marriage and a life lived in the public eye. And it was the Princess of Wales’ eldest son who told his mother that she should leave her home base of the U.K. to escape suffocating press attention, a royal photographer told a documentary.

During Diana’s last summer in 1997, the most photographed woman in the world was photographed even more than normal thanks to her budding romance with Dodi Al-Fayed. Photographers followed their every move, and eventually Diana decided enough was enough, The Sun’s longstanding royal photographer Arthur Edwards said in the documentary Diana: Last Days of a Princess and reported on by the Daily Express.

“Suddenly, she strode down some steps and very rapidly got into a boat,” he said. “I remember picking up the camera, and she said, ‘No pictures.’ It looked like she wanted to speak to us. She came over and said, ‘Why are you here?’”

The press pack replied, “Because you are here, ma’am.”

Her response shook Edwards.

“William’s told me that I should leave England and go and live somewhere else,” Diana replied.

Edwards said Diana was “tearful” and “obviously upset about something.”

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to be the reason why she’s going to live in exile,’” Edwards said.

William’s close observation of his mother’s hounding by the British press pushed him to learn from the mistakes of the past with his own wife, Kate Middleton, said Katie Nicholl in her book Kate: The Future Queen.

“[William] had seen firsthand how his mother had been harassed by the paparazzi and was determined that Kate not be subjected to the same treatment,” Nicholl wrote.

And, in a twist likely no one saw coming in 1997, it wouldn’t be Diana but instead her younger son, Harry, who left the U.K. for life elsewhere.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.