Prince William Was Princess Diana's "Most Trusted Confidant"

"She used to describe him as 'my little wise old man,'" writes Tina Brown in 'The Palace Papers.'

Princess Diana and Prince William
(Image credit: Getty)

More than 30 years after her death, the world is still trying to get a full picture of who Princess Diana, the human person, really was. Based on an excerpt from Diana biographer Tina Brown’s latest bombshell book, The Palace Papers, published in Vanity Fair, it seems that her then-teenaged son Prince William may have been the one who knew her best. As adults, neither Prince William nor Prince Harry are known for being especially forthcoming with the media about their mother (for obvious reasons), but Brown's excerpt describes a level of closeness between Diana and William—and the press—that was out of the ordinary for a mother and son.

Brown writes that by the time he was a young teenager, William knew all the good, bad, and ugly details of his mother’s relationships with men and with the tabloids. For instance, Brown writes, 13-year-old William was invited along on a meeting with Piers Morgan, of all people, where Morgan said William insisted on having a glass of wine and seemed up to date on all of her affairs. William reportedly told Morgan he kept a photo of Julia Carling—the wife of a man Diana had been in a relationship with—on his dartboard at Eton. 

Princess Diana sitting with Prince William

(Image credit: Getty)

Tina Brown suggests that being privy to all of his mother’s secrets, and watching those secrets spill out into the public, ultimately leading to her death at age 36, is what led to Prince William’s “grim, steely obsession with control” when it comes to the press.

Princes Charles, William, and Harry at Diana memorial

(Image credit: Getty)

In 2021, Prince William released a statement condemning the BBC’s Martin Bashir for gaining access to Princess Diana for the infamous 1995 interview through deceitful and manipulative methods. “It effectively established a false narrative, which for over a quarter of a century has been commercialized by the BBC and others,” he said, via NPR. Two years earlier, when rumors swirled about William herself having an affair, the prince immediately swooped in to shut it down by taking immediate legal action.

Kathleen Walsh

Kathleen Walsh is a freelance writer and editor whose work focuses on culture, dating, and feminism and especially where all three intersect. Her writing can be found in the New York Times, InStyle, Teen Vogue, and more.