How Prince Harry's Relationship With Diana Was Different From William's

Motherhood played a prominent role in Princess Diana's life. She wasn't afraid to make her own choices and break strict royal rules. Beginning with their births, Diana did what she felt was best for her two sons, William and Harry. Abandoning royal protocol regarding the birthing process, Diana opted for active participation in labor, per Hello! Rather than being born in Buckingham Palace, like previous heirs to the throne, the Princess of Wales selected the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital for William's birth. Before Diana, Princess Anne had given birth there, and Kate Middleton continued the tradition for all three of her children later on (via Town & County).

"I live for my sons. I would be lost without them," Diana famously said, per People. The Princess of Wales was a hands-on mother. Instead of leaving her kids at home when she went on royal tours abroad, Diana took her children with her. When Prince William was nine months old, he joined his parents on their Australian tour, per Mabel and Moxie.

Diana spent time with her children at home, walking with them on school days. During vacations, the fun-loving mom took her kids skiing, played at the beach, and joined them on amusement park rides, per Insider. Tragically, Diana died in 1997, when her children were 15 and 12, per ABC News. During their too-brief time together, Diana forged a strong bond with her sons. However, like in many families, each sibling had a slightly different connection with their mother.

Harry's younger age made a difference in how he viewed Diana

As Dr. Jeffrey B. Rubin, psychotherapist and author, told Elite Daily, "There is a special bond between firstborn and the parent. They may take on the hopes and dreams of the parent, and may feel they have a sort of destiny to fulfill for them." As the oldest child, Prince William had the weighty responsibility of becoming king one day. From an early age, the brothers were reportedly aware of this key difference between them. "'You'll be King. I won't — so I can do what I want!'" Harry supposedly told William during a sibling squabble when they were eight and six years old, per Daily Mail.

Since Harry's older brother was receiving extra attention from relatives and training for his kingly duties, Diana made a point to make her second-born feel valued. "Harry has always known he was number two and obviously Diana was very anxious that he shouldn't feel that," said Ingrid Seward in the documentary "Meghan and Harry: The Baby Years," per Mabel and Moxie.

Harry's younger age also shielded him from seeing some of the difficulties in Diana's life. "The two-year age gap between them was critical in forging their distinctive worldviews and, equally so, in shaping their perceptions of their mother," wrote royal author Tina Brown, per Newsweek. "Prince Harry idolized Diana more and understood her less."

Princess Diana and Harry shared a fun-loving personality

Stewart Pearce, Princess Diana's former voice coach, believes Prince Harry and his mother share many similar traits. While William resembles his mother and shares her eye color, it's Harry who displays Diana's outlook on life. "Harry, in terms of his impetuosity [is Diana]," Pearce told Us Weekly. "He loves life. He has fun."

Diana was also known for her sense of fun, which left a lasting impression on Harry. "Our mother was a total kid, through and through," he said in the documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy" (via The Washington Post). Far from being a disciplinarian, Princess Diana didn't mind if her children misbehaved. In fact, Diana derived a lot of humor from William and Harry's wild antics. "One of her mottos to me was 'you can be as naughty as you want, just don't get caught," Harry added, per Newsweek.

"The princess actively encouraged Harry's mischievous nature, which was in some ways akin to her own," royal author Robert Jobson wrote in the Daily Mail. According to Jobson, Diana was once called into Harry's school to discuss his troublemaking behavior. Instead of being angry or disappointed, the Princess of Wales started laughing when the headmistress told her about Harry's actions. "She was one of the naughtiest parents," Harry recalled, speaking in the documentary (via Mabel and Moxie).

Diana's all-encompassing hugs made a lasting impression on Harry

Speaking in the documentary, "Diana, Our Mother, Her Life and Legacy," Prince Harry said Princess Diana was the "best mum in the world." Diana was a demonstrative mother who made sure she showed her children that they were loved. "She would just engulf you and squeeze you as tight as possible," Harry said, recalling his mother's hugs. "And being as short as I was then, there was no escape, you were there and you were there for as long as she wanted to hold you," (via Elle).

Demonstrating affection was at the center of Diana's views on motherhood. "Hugging has no harmful side effects," the princess says in a 1992 speech, per Youtube. "If we all play our part in making our children feel valued, the result will be tremendous." Harry also remembers Diana's joy when she was with her children. "All I can hear is her laugh in my head and that sort of crazy laugh of where there was just pure happiness shown on her face," per Elle. The princess' love for William and Harry is evident in a 1991 photo of Diana mid-hug, greeting her children as they join her in Canada (via Hello!).

Harry also has particularly close ties with his mother's siblings

After Princess Diana's tragic death, her family members vowed to maintain their bonds with Prince William and Prince Harry. While both brothers continue to maintain a good relationship with the Spencer side of the family, Harry enjoys a special bond with them. Harry's Spencer aunts, cousins, and uncle have participated in milestone events, such as his wedding to Meghan Markle, as well as meeting his son Archie soon after his birth. Harry also included his Spencer aunts and uncle in Archie's birth announcement. Diana called Harry "my little Spencer" because his red hair reminded her of her sister Sarah's hair when she was a young girl (via E! News).

Harry and his uncle, Charles Spencer, shared an uncanny resemblance as children. In 2022, Diana's brother showed an artistic rendition of himself as a young boy (via Instagram). The drawing looked a lot like early photos of Harry, per Tatler. Family ties have always been important to Spencer. He was still a child when his sister Diana married Prince Charles and became Princess of Wales. "You separate the media personality from the real person who's a member of your family, and that's all that matters at the end of the day," he said, speaking on the talk show "Lorraine" in 2021 (via Hello!)

William was privy to Diana's struggles

Since he was two years older than Harry, Prince William was more attuned to his mother's struggle with the tabloids and her marital difficulties. Writing in the Daily Mail, royal author Robert Jobson mentions how Diana would call William at school, crying and airing her frustrations with Charles. The prince reportedly felt himself being pulled in two directions, and he allegedly wanted his mother to stop putting him in the middle of things.

"By his early teens, he was his mother's most trusted confidant," says author Tina Brown, per Newsweek. "[Diana] used to describe him as 'my little wise old man.'" In a Vanity Fair excerpt of her book, "The Palace Papers," Brown chronicles how William accompanied his mother to a meeting with a tabloid journalist when he was 13 years old. Because of all the media attention Diana was receiving at the time, Brown writes that William had to endure his boarding-school classmates talking about his mother.

The Prince of Cambridge continues to be mindful of how the media treated his mother. In 2021 William spoke out about how Diana was manipulated into giving a 1995 interview with Martin Bashir. "She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions," he said, per BBC.

Both William and Harry talk about Diana with their kids

Prince William and Prince Harry have chosen to honor their mother's memory by naming their daughters after her. William's daughter is named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, per Vanity Fair. Lilibet, Prince Harry's daughter, also has Diana as a middle name (via BBC).

In the documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy," William talked about how he shares stories and photos of Diana with his children, especially at bedtime. He conscientiously takes time to share her memories, saying, "It's important that they know who she was and that she existed," (via People). If Diana could have met her grandchildren, William said in the documentary, "She'd love the children to bits, but she'd be an absolute nightmare." He imagined a humorous scene, saying," She'd come and go and she'd come in probably at bath time, cause an amazing amount of scene, bubbles everywhere, bathwater all over the place — and then leave," per Elle.

Prince Harry also shares photos of Diana and talks about her with his son, Archie. Speaking to Hoda Kotb on Today, Harry said he feels his mother's presence all the time. "It is constant. It has been over the last two years." Harry attributes this feeling to becoming a father during this time. "It is almost as though she's done her bit with my brother and now she's very much, like, helping me. Got him set up. And now she's helping me set up," he said.