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Video: Coping after Diana's death

By
TODAY contributor
updated 6/18/2007 9:01:36 AM ET 2007-06-18T13:01:36

When William and Harry, the adolescent heirs to the throne of Great Britain, lost their mother, they got through the tragic ordeal that followed because they still had each other.

“I think we're both very grateful that each of us were there, you know, sort of as a shoulder to cry on if we needed to,” Prince Harry said in the first part of their exclusive interview with TODAY co-host Matt Lauer. “We sat down and . . . we talked, we talked about stuff.

“After our mother's death, there was so much of us being in the public. And then seeing stuff on TV and reading stuff saying, 'Oh, they show no emotion,' that sort of stuff. That's our public side, you know? We don't feel comfortable pouring our eyes out in front of thousands of people.

They were still just kids then, dressed in suits and walking stoically beside their father, Charles, Prince of Wales, behind their mother's casket, keeping the stiff upper lips for which the British are so famous.

Today, they're grown up. Prince William is 24; Harry 22. But, as Harry said, they still “have each other to talk to.”

There's been so much to talk about going back to when they were little and their glamorous mother, Lady Diana, and proper father separated and the tabloid press turned their family into a cottage industry that didn't look at them as human beings with emotions but as paychecks.

“I really remember one story in particular that was just quite hard for her to deal was when she was criticized personally about her body,” William said. “And someone had said something about she'd have cellulite or something like that. And I remember that for a woman in the public eye and she tried so hard - very glamorous and [it] meant a lot.”

Even as boys, they knew it hurt her, and they'd take it on themselves to cheer her up.

“For any woman, I imagine it's just it's outrageous that these people sit behind their desks and comment on it,” William said. “And you know there were many times that we just sort of had to cheer up and tell her that she was, you know, the best thing ever.”

Constant reminder
Diana still is to many people, and, with the 10th anniversary of her death looming on Aug. 31, the late princes remains a constant presence to her sons and an object of fascination to the public.

Lauer began the interview in the princes' London residence by remarking that it seems as if it's been just a year or two since the car carrying Diana and her companion, Dodi Al-Fayed, and driven by an intoxicated chauffeur crashed in a tunnel in Paris, killing both passengers.

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The time, Harry said, has gone "really, really slowly actually. Over the last 10 years I personally feel as though she has been. . .always there. She's always being a constant reminder to both of us and everybody else."

"There's not a day goes by I don't think . . . about it," William added. "And so for us . . . it has been a long time."

There will be a memorial service on the anniversary of her death, but before that, on July 1, William and Harry are organizing a concert in Wembley Stadium as a celebration of her life on the day that she would have turned 46. Among the performers will be Duran Duran, Diana's favorite band; Elton John, who sang at her funeral; numbers from Andrew Lloyd Weber productions; and such sophisticated artists as the English National Ballet.

“We didn't want to have just a memorial service,” William explained.. We wanted to have a concert for her life and energy and all things that we thought she brought. And so this was sort of the best way of doing it, and we wanted to make the concert a bit more sort of edgy with the dance side of things as well.

“And Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals. So it's not just the concert. It incorporates her love of dance and her passion and energy.”

The motivation is simple, he said: “We always wanted to do something for her, and we wanted to mark it in a specifically special way.”

Proceeds from the concert will go to three charities, one named for Diana and two others supported by William and Harry. Diana did much for charity, her sons said, but never wanted anyone to make a big deal of it.

“She didn't want praise for it,” William said. “She did it 'cause she cared.

And it was generally a massive quality of hers which was why she became so big, I think. She wanted to give so much love and give so much care to people who really needed it.”

They did not say if it would include the playfulness she showed in the nicknames she gave her sons.

TODAY
Jeff Overs
NBC News' Matt Lauer on the grounds of London's Clarence House with Princes Harry and William.

On a trip to Australia when William was a toddler, Diana dubbed him “Wombat,” and it's stuck.

And Harry?

“Ginger,” said William.

“Ginger?” Lauer repeated incredulously.

“I know,” Harry said. “Exactly. You're so surprised as I am. I don't think I'm Gin. . .”

Before he could finish, a gleeful William cut him off, saying, “Apart from the fact that you are.”

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married on July 29, 1981. It was a storybook wedding between the 32-year-old heir to the throne and his beautiful and charismatic 20-year-old bride. Some 600,000 people thronged the streets of London to catch a glimpse of the wedding procession. Less than a year later, Prince William was born.

Two years later, Prince Harry followed, but the fairy tale was already unraveling. By the end of 1992, the couple had separated, with their sons, who attended boarding schools, shuttling between their aristocratically aloof father and their vibrant mother. The couple divorced in August 1996.

When she died a year later, it was one of the defining moments of a generation, and Diana remains in death one of the most influential people of her time.

They don't feel they'll ever see a day when the public has had its fill of their mother.

“I can't really see it ever ending really,” Harry told Lauer. “I think people will always have a fascination about her and journalists believe that there's a need to read about her, a need to sort of be reminded about her.”

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