Lady Diana made the House of Windsor important around the globe, and it falls to her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry to carry on what she began, royal watchers say.
“I do think the survival of the royal family really hinges on the work to be carried on in the wake of the death of their mother,” said Ken Wharfe, who as a Royal Protection Officer was a bodyguard to the young royals from 1986-93.
Wharfe and royal family chronicler Andrew Morton joined TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira to discuss Matt Lauer's exclusive interview with the princes and what they mean to the future of British monarchy. Their father, Charles, Prince of Wales, is heir to the throne. William, 24, is next in line, followed by Harry, 22.
Diana Spencer, their mother, was the outsider, charismatic and outgoing. She caused controversy within the royal family, but according to Wharfe and Morton, also made it relevant.
“Diana was the one who really escalated the House of Windsor into an international institution,” said Morton, whose latest book is entitled, “Diana: Her True Story.” “It is down to William and Harry to be the flagbearers of the House of Windsor going into the future, not just in Britain, but also around the globe. Certainly interest in the House of Windsor has diminished since Diana's death, and it's up to these two to fly the flag for Diana.”
“Is there a sense they want to do that?” Vieira asked.
“I don't know,” said Wharfe, who also talked about how Diana's desire that they be “normal” put them in tune with their own generation. "She wanted them to have an education that was normal in the sense of being what everybody else did,” he said. "So she sent them to school and insisted that they trade home visits with their friends, telling them, “'What you see now is about as normal as you're going to get.'
“Had it not been for that, they could have been educated privately in some tower of some bastion in some castle somewhere,” he said. “Interesting enough, instead of the traditional view of the royal family, you have two boys that speak like the younger generation in this country and around the world. I think that's a fantastic idea that they are now at long last beginning to move in and I think beginning to carry on where their mother left off.”
Although they appear to be very close, William and Harry are two very different people.
“They're an interesting double act, the first royal double act,” said Morton. “Certainly, Prince William, as Diana herself said, has far more of the Windsor in him and Harry far more of the the Spencer - not just the ginger hair, but that kind of sense of recklessness that characterizes his behavior, notably his altercations with paparazzi.”
Diana, Morton feels, would “be very proud of them. At the same time she'd have a wry smile that whilst they're trying to be normal, they have their own servants, they're members of the military, they live a life of privilege and luxury, and if Queen Victoria came up today, she'd say, 'There's not been an awful lot changed.' “At the same time, Diana would say, 'At least they've got a reasonably even-headed view of the world.'”
Wharfe said that “Diana had a wicked sense of humor” that shows up in her sons. He told of William on his first day of school being asked by a classmate, “Is it true you know the Queen?”
“Will looked at him and said, 'Don't you mean “Granny?”'”
“I think they have a great future,” Wharfe concluded. “ I think they really hold the key to the success of the royal family.”