King Charles Has “Deep Regrets” Over Forcing Prince William and Prince Harry to Walk Behind Princess Diana’s Coffin

“I think it haunts him, as it haunts them.”

Prince William and Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince Harry’s forthcoming memoir, Spare—due out on January 10, 2023—is set to open with one of the most heartbreaking scenes any royal follower can remember: Prince William, 15, and Harry, only 12, walking solemnly behind their beloved mother’s coffin as it processed through London to Westminster Abbey, where Princess Diana’s funeral was held on September 6, 1997.

Beside the princes was their father, the then Prince Charles, grandfather Prince Philip, and uncle Earl Charles Spencer, the younger brother of Diana, who died in a Parisian car crash one week prior on August 31, 1997. Though the procession was only a mile in length, the wounds from that moment have lasted for both brothers up to the present day.

Christopher Andersen, author of the book The King: The Life of King Charles III, out November 8, says the king has deep regrets over forcing his sons to walk behind his first wife’s coffin, saying “I think it haunts him, as it haunts them.”

Andersen, speaking on the “Royally Us” podcast, says “[William and Harry have] spoken about it. I’ve written that, I believe, it’s a form of PTSD. Harry uses terms like the triggering of even flying into London, and it reminds him of that day when he had to walk behind the coffin. They were, more or less, bullied into doing it by the Palace, by the men in grey who really run the Palace, [who] Diana used to complain about.”

According to Andersen, the new king “understands that, to some extent, he is responsible for [William and Harry] having to suffer through.”

In the podcast interview, per The Daily Express, Andersen also noted Earl Spencer’s regret of trying to convince William and Harry to walk behind the coffin, a moment that will take center stage in the opening pages of Spare, where publisher Penguin Random House says readers will immediately be taken “back to one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow—and horror. As Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling—and how their lives would play out from that point on. For Harry, this is his story, at last.” 

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.