Prince Harry Thought Princess Diana Faked Her Own Death for 11 Years

He believed this to be true until he was 23 years old.

Princess Diana, Prince William, Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty)

In perhaps one of the saddest revelations during Prince Harry’s 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, the Duke of Sussex revealed that, for 11 years, he believed his mother Princess Diana’s death was a hoax, and that any day she would call him and brother Prince William and ask them to join her somewhere.

“For a long time, I just refused to accept that she was gone,” Harry said. “Part of [it was] she would never do this to us. But also, part of it maybe [felt like] this is all part of a plan. For a time [I believed she was alive] and then she would call us, and we would go and join her.”

Harry said it took “many years” to accept that his mother was really gone, adding “I had huge amounts of hope.”

Diana died on August 31, 1997 from injuries sustained in a car crash in Paris. Harry was just 12 at the time, a couple of weeks shy of his thirteenth birthday on September 15.

Us Weekly reports that, during the CBS broadcast, Harry spoke of attempts to see proof of the car accident, which took her life as well as the lives of driver Henri Paul and her boyfriend, Dodi al-Fayed. The only survivor was her bodyguard, Trevor Rhys-Jones, who sustained substantial, life-threatening injuries.

“[I was looking mainly for] proof that she was in the car,” Harry said. “Proof that she was injured and proof that the very paparazzi that chased her into the tunnel were the ones that were taking photographs of her lying half dead in the back [of the car]. The pictures showed the reflection of a group of photographers taking photographs through the window and the reflection on the window was them.”

Harry’s private secretary stopped him from seeing the more gruesome images, he said.

“All I saw was the back of my mom’s head slumped on the backseat,” he said. “I will be eternally grateful to him for denying me the ability to inflict pain on myself by seeing that. Because that’s the kind of stuff that sticks in your mind forever.”

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.