Prince William and Prince Harry Detail Their Last Phone Call with Their Mother, Princess Diana, Hours Before Her Untimely Death

“That phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily.”

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

The royal family is currently at Balmoral, where they typically spend the waning days of summer. Since last year, it will likely forever be associated with the passing of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, but, 25 years before 2022, young Prince William and Prince Harry were at Balmoral with their father, Prince Charles, on the most devastating night of their lives.

Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry at Balmoral

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This week marks 26 years since Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, in a car accident in Paris; her boyfriend, Dodi Al Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul, also perished, while bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was severely injured. At just 36, Diana’s death was, of course, wholly unexpected, and William, 15 at the time, and Harry, 12, had no idea that when they last spoke to their mother it would be the final time they would ever hear her voice.

“Their final conversation was devastating,” The Mirror reports.    

Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty Images)

William and Harry opened up publicly about her death in 2017—20 years later. Speaking on the ITV documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, Harry said “I can’t necessarily remember what I said, but all I do remember is regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was. If I’d known that that was the last time I was going to speak to my mother, the things I would have said to her.”

Princess Diana and her younger son, Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty)

He continued “Looking back at it now—it’s incredibly hard. I have to deal with that for the rest of my life, not knowing that it was the last time I’d speak to my mum, how differently that conversation would have panned out if I’d had even the slightest inkling that her life was going to be taken that night.”

Princess Diana and her younger son, Prince Harry

(Image credit: Getty)

William and Harry had spent time with Diana earlier in the summer; she was in Paris while the boys joined Charles in Scotland. Charles and Diana, who married in 1981, had separated in 1992 and finalized their divorce on August 28, 1996—368 days before Diana’s death.

Prince William Princess Diana

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“The very last memory I have is a phone call from Balmoral,” William said. “At the time, Harry and I were running around, minding our own business, playing with our cousins and having a very good time. Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say ‘Goodbye, see you later, can I go off?’ If I’d known what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have been quite so blasé about it. That phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily.”

Diana William Harry Ski Holiday

(Image credit: Getty Images/Tim Graham)

The summer of 1997, which concluded with Diana’s passing, will be recreated on the sixth and final season of Netflix’s The Crown, due to premiere this fall. The show’s executive producers spoke out recently about how they handled the events surrounding Diana’s death, saying it was handled delicately and thoughtfully, Marie Claire reported yesterday.

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.