Princess Diana Would Have Been a “Peacemaker” and Would Have Made Prince Harry Apologize to King Charles If She Were Alive, Former Royal Butler Says

“Her word would have been final.”

Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty)

No doubt that many of us have had this thought slip into our minds: What would the relationship be like between Prince Harry and his father, King Charles, or his brother, Prince William, if Princess Diana were still alive? Something tells us that it never would have escalated to this point, and that Diana would have mediated the situation long before it got so out of hand. We’ll never know, of course; Diana died at just 36 years old on August 31, 1997, following a Paris car crash. Her sons, William and Harry, were just 15 and 12, respectively; at the time of her death, Diana had been divorced from Charles for just 368 days, with their 15-year marriage officially ending on August 28, 1996.

Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry

Diana was a deeply devoted mother to her sons William and Harry.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the closest figures in Diana’s life was her butler, Paul Burrell, who, too, has thought about what would happen if Diana were still here, and how Harry’s relationship with his father and brother might be different today. Per The Sun, Burrell claims that Diana would have served as peacemaker—and that she “would have made Harry apologize to Charles,” he said.

Prince Harry and King Charles in top hats

Diana died in 1997, but had she lived, her former butler Paul Burrell said that she would have played peacemaker between Charles and Harry.

(Image credit: Getty)

Burrell added “There’s no love lost between Diana and Charles, but what was important to Diana is that both boys should have been influenced by both parents, and she would have wanted them to respect their father,” he said. “She would have made Harry apologize to Charles, and Diana would have been the broker of that—she was always the peacemaker.”

Of her separation in 1992 and her ultimate divorce four years later, “She wanted the four of them to stay together,” Burrell said of Diana. “It broke her heart when that disintegrated.”

Diana William Harry Ski Holiday

There's no way Diana would have let the tension escalate to this point if she were here.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Tim Graham)

Charles and Diana married on July 29, 1981; she gave birth to William in 1982 and Harry in 1984, but at some point Charles resumed his romantic relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles—now his wife, Queen Camilla—and in 1992, after 11 years of marriage, the Prince and Princess of Wales separated. Their difficult divorce took four years to finalize.

Had she lived, “The boys would have been glued to their mother, and her word would have been final,” said Burrell, who worked with the late Princess of Wales right up to the time of her death nearly 27 years ago. “Now there is nobody to sort them out. I’m afraid it’s a lost cause.”

King Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry

Burrell said Diana would have made Harry apologize to Charles.

(Image credit: Getty)

Tensions have brewed between Harry and the rest of the family for years; The Sun reports that William, stung by Harry’s memoir, Spare, and his Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, “has not spoken to Harry since Queen Elizabeth’s funeral,” the outlet reports. Meanwhile, Charles and Harry saw one another after Harry flew to the U.K. after his father announced his cancer diagnosis in February—however, when Harry was in the U.K. earlier this month celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Invictus Games, he was “keen” to see his father and was left “deeply stung” when the monarch reportedly couldn’t find time for Harry in his schedule. 

No members of the royal family showed up to Harry’s Service of Thanksgiving for the Invictus Games at St. Paul’s Cathedral on May 8 but, touchingly, Diana’s siblings were there to make sure Harry felt love from at least part of his family. 

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.