While Prince William and Prince Harry are well known to be actively involved in the lives of their father King Charles, one often overlooked connection is to that of their late mother’s family, the Spencers.
After tragically losing Princess Diana in a car crash back in 1997, William and Harry have remained close to their maternal aunts Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Jane Fellowes, Baroness Fellowes – but also notably to their uncle, Charles Spencer, Diana’s younger brother.
The connection first gained public traction at the funeral of Diana in September 1997, when he walked side by side with his young nephews, then-Prince Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh behind his sister’s coffin.
Raising objections at the time to the Princes walking in the funeral procession, royal officials “informed him that William and Harry wanted to do it” – something that later proved to be far from the case.
Describing the experience as the "most horrifying half hour of my life”, Charles told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, that he still had nightmares from the “harrowing” experience even twenty years on from the sad occasion, but argued that he believed it was a “million times worse” for Diana’s sons.
Vowing to protect both William and Harry, Charles publicly promised to take care of his nephews in his eulogy speech at the Princess of Wales’ funeral.
He said: "I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative and loving way in which you were steering these two exceptional young men so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly as you planned.”
He then continued: "We fully respect the heritage into which they have both been born and will always respect and encourage them in their royal role. But we, like you, recognise the need for them to experience as many different aspects of life as possible to arm them spiritually and emotionally for the years ahead. I know you would have expected nothing less from us.”
Before finally adding: "William and Harry, we all cared desperately for you today. We are all chewed up with the sadness at the loss of a woman who was not even our mother. How great your suffering is, we cannot even imagine."
Despite his public vow, Charles has rarely been spotted with the Princes in public since, with only a handful of occasions caught on camera, notably at events involving his sister’s memory.
Charles famously came out to support the Princes in 2006 at the opening of a Hyde Park fountain built in Diana's memory.
They also later appeared together in 2021, when a statue of the Princess was unveiled in the gardens of Buckingham Palace to mark what would have been her 60th birthday.
It hasn’t always been doom and gloom either, as Charles Spencer has also been present at a number of happier royal affairs, including the royal wedding of William and Kate Middleton in April 2011 and again in 2018 when Harry tied the knot with Meghan Markle.
The Earl has also remained conspicuously silent surrounding Prince Harry’s recent criticism of the royal family, but is understood to still be on good terms with both of his nephews.
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