How old was Harry when Princess Diana died? Young prince allowed to show 'one-tenth of emotion everyone felt'

Suppressing emotions made Harry angry, especially after seeing strangers cry over Diana's death. 'This was my mother you never even met her,' he said


                            How old was Harry when Princess Diana died? Young prince allowed to show 'one-tenth of emotion everyone felt'
Prince Harry felt frustrated at Princess Diana's funeral because he was not allowed to mourn her death properly (Getty Images)

In his candid interview with Oprah Winfrey for his Apple TV+ show, 'The Me You Can’t See,' Prince Harry opened up about how frustrated he felt at the public who had gathered to mourn Princess Diana during her 1997 funeral because he was never given the opportunity to grieve for his dead mother. 

Princess Diana's untimely death came on August 31, 1997, when she succumbed to her injuries from a fatal car crash in Paris. Her death stunned the United Kingdom and sent the world into mourning. Prince Harry, who was just 12 years old at the time, was tasked with the heartbreaking task of walking behind his mother's coffin during her funeral in London.

He walked with his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, who was 15 at the time, behind the coffin when it was being carried to Westminster Abbey. The televised moment has since drawn criticism as it put the young princes in the spotlight during their time of grief and was immortalized in the first episode of the Duke of Sussex's latest documentary on mental health. 

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'One-tenth of emotion'

Prince Philip, Prince William, Charles Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles follow the coffin of Princess Diana in September 1997 (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)

In the documentary, Prince Charles could be seen speaking to his emotional son as a female voiceover said, "Treating people with dignity is the first act." While there was an unprecedented outpouring of emotion from the public who gathered to bid the final goodbye to their beloved 'People's Princess,' Harry opened up about how he was only allowed to show "one-tenth of the emotion everyone else was feeling."

At that age, suppressing his emotions made him angry, especially after seeing strangers on the street crying over Diana's death. "This was my mother you never even met her," he said. Harry has previously admitted that he spent nearly two decades "not thinking" about her death before eventually getting help after a period of "total chaos."

He claimed that he was discouraged from talking about his mother's death. As a result, when people would ask him how he was feeling, he said, "fine was the easy answer." He added, "To make that decision to receive help is not a sign of weakness. In today's world more than ever, it is a sign of strength." 

Drugs to numb pain

Prince Harry opened up to Oprah Winfrey in his mental health documentary (Apple TV+)

Eventually, to numb his lingering pain, he took to drugs. In order to "feel less" of what he was feeling, Harry said that he would abstain from drinking all week and then drink "a week's worth" in one sitting as a coping mechanism. "I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling", he said.

"But I slowly became aware that, okay, I wasn't drinking Monday to Friday, but I would probably drink a week's worth in one day on a Friday or a Saturday night. And I would find myself drinking, not because I was enjoying it but because I was trying to mask something." Harry was reportedly sent to rehab by Charles after he was caught smoking cannabis at the age of 17. St James's Palace later confirmed that Harry had "experimented with the drug on several occasions" but said he was not a "regular" user.

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