What You Didn't Know About Prince William's Relationship With Princess Diana

Perhaps one of the most photographed women of all time is Princess Diana. Despite her life being tragically cut short due to injuries sustained in a 1997 car crash, Diana was a force to be reckoned with and certainly gave the British royal family a run for their money.

Having married into the firm when she tied the knot with the heir apparent, Prince Charles, Diana transformed from a shy young lady into trailblazing dynamite, her popularity among the public unrivaled. Of course, she was not only known for her philanthropic work, gentle nature, and unwavering spirit, but she was adored due to her hands-on approach to parenting. Her two sons, Princes William and Harry, were clearly the lights of her life, and Diana's dedication to them — and the normalcy of their childhood — was well known.

William and Harry were just 15 and 12 years old when their mother died, and the duo stayed rather quiet on the subject in the immediate aftermath. With time, both sons have opened up about their mother and her legacy. But despite the well-documented princess and her role as a mom, there are some hidden truths about her relationship with her oldest son, William, that you probably don't know.

William was in the know about Diana's extramarital love life

Diana Spencer and Prince Charles had a whirlwind engagement and, as many of us know, a marriage fraught with strife, stress, and infidelity. The pair officially separated in 1992 and went on to divorce following Diana's bombshell BBC interview in 1995. However, both parties were rumored to have had extramarital affairs during their union — Charles famously maintaining his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles and Diana romantically connecting with Will Carling and James Hewitt, among others. While the frequency of the royal couple's affairs is common knowledge, many people may not know that Prince William was also in the know about his mother's infidelity, a circumstance that British journalist Piers Morgan commented on.

In an extensive Vanity Fair article examining Diana's relationship with her son and the press, Morgan recounted, "[William was] clearly in the loop on most of her bizarre world and, in particular, the various men who come into it from time to time." Specifically, Diana's relationship with rugby player Carling was brought into the spotlight. As it happens, William was a fan of the player and was reportedly around him and Diana at least a few times, eventually realizing that "a romantic rendezvous" was at play.

The prince credits his mother for teaching him the value of true feelings

Perhaps one of Princess Diana's most telling traits was her compassion. From her work with the homeless communities of England to her touching efforts during the AIDS crisis, the princess was known for her affection. Not only was Diana singularly kind, but her affection was very avant-garde for a member of the royal family, a notoriously stiff-upper-lip institution. And while Prince William has embraced the firm way of life — as he will most likely be king — the heir has a softness and emotional openness that is a direct tie to his late mother. In fact, he credits his mother for showing him what emotional expression really consists of.

During the HBO documentary, "Diana, Our Mother," featuring both William and Prince Harry, the second in line to the throne admitted that it was his mother who was adamant about "showing what feelings meant, and how important it was to feel" (via The New Yorker). In a review of the film, The New Yorker noted that William's own charitable work harnesses that very sentiment Diana passed to her sons, making his contribution even more touching.

William and Diana reportedly got into a huge fight after her infamous BBC interview

Princess Diana was quite a public figure, but perhaps her most expository coverage came in the form of her BBC interview with Martin Bashir. The sit-down was incredibly damning to the royal family and to Diana's crippling marriage to Prince Charles, but it was the fallout and subsequent argument she had with Prince William that sealed a horrific fate for the princess. Simone Simmons, a close friend of Diana's, told Vanity Fair that after the interview aired — and Diana dropped bombs such as, "There were three of us in [the marriage]," alluding to Camilla Parker Bowles — she and William had a "major falling out."

"William was absolutely livid," Simone shared with the publication. "Of course it was in all the papers and William told me he was teased at school because of it. He felt really bad for his mum because of what she had gone through, but he was furious with her. People at school were calling her all sorts of names."

Simone then recalled that the weekend after the interview aired, William and Diana got into a huge argument, leaving Diana upset. "I was there the day after she spoke to him and Diana was in a terrible state," Simone concluded.

The young prince reportedly made a devastating promise to his mother after her divorce

When Princess Diana and Prince Charles separated in 1992, it certainly sent shock waves through the Commonwealth. The pair had tied the knot in a lavish, fairytale-like ceremony, had two children, and lived the royal dream from what people could tell. But their marriage crumbled, and by 1996, the two were finally divorced. As noted by The Mirror, Diana was given a large lump sum of about £17 million and was awarded an additional yearly payment of about £350,000. And while she was certainly taken care of financially, Diana lost many royal perks as a result of her divorce, including her HRH title. Given that she no longer could go by "Her Royal Highness," Diana was dealt a devastating blow — she would have to curtsy to her ex-husband and her two children.

Here's where the young Prince William unexpectedly comes in. Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, told The Mirror that Diana was devastated at the realization that not only would others not have to curtsy to her as they used to, but that she would have to bow to members of her own family. William, sweetly, reportedly told his mother not to worry, as he would make things right when he became king. "Don't worry Mummy," William reportedly said at the time. "I will give it [HRH title] back to you one day when I am king."

William saw his mother differently than his brother did

As kids, we often look to our parents not only for guidance but for inspiration. They are often our first introduction to the world, they teach us how to navigate certain issues, and can often become sources of influence in our own lives. While Princess Diana was certainly an inspiration to the British public and the world at large, she was also a very hands-on mom, a dedication that set her apart from other royals. And while Princes William and Harry have commemorated their mom in a number of ways since her passing, William is said to idolize her less than his brother, potentially due to the struggles in her life he was privy to.

As noted by Vanity Fair, Harry — who has followed in his mother's footsteps in a variety of ways — was mischievous like Diana and emulated her own emotional process far more than his brother. For his part, William "understood Diana more, but idealized her less," and he was often exposed to the raw emotions his mother experienced at the hands of the royal family, the press, and more. Vanity Fair further commented that William became Diana's friend and the princess herself would often call him, "My little wise old man."

William blames the BBC in part for his mother's divorce

Princess Diana's sit-down interview with the BBC's Martin Bashir is still seen as one of the most expository moments in modern royal family history. Diana's confessions and brutal honesty were unexpected, and the interview marked the final nail in her marriage's coffin. And while Diana and Prince Charles' union had been plagued with infidelity, Prince William sees the interview as having the most consequence. In his view, the BBC not only failed Diana, but failed his parents' marriage, too.

After it was recently discovered that Bashir used falsified documents to lure Diana in for the interview, an internal investigation was conducted. Despite the admission from the BBC about the true intentions behind the 1995 sit down, William released a scathing statement, blaming not only a "rogue reporter," but the BBC at large.

"What saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived," William said in the aftermath of the investigation. The interview, William added, was a "major contribution to making my parents' relationship worse."

Diana struggled with the decision to send William to boarding school

When we think of the royal family, we often think of boarding school. Not only has it been a tradition to send royal children to such academic establishments, but a number of the royals support the decision. Take Princess Anne, for example, who told Vanity Fair that she is a supporter of boarding school, and believes it has a variety of benefits. While the experience might be good for some, it can be rough on the parents who send their kids away to school, and according to the book "William at 40: The Making of a Modern Monarch," Princess Diana was not keen on her eldest son being shipped off.

Author Robert Jobson wrote in his book that the decision to send 8-year-old William to boarding school left Diana upset (via Newsweek). While the move was heartbreaking for the princess, the young royal thrived as a result.

"For William, school was not only fun but a respite from his mother's increasing tendency to lean on him as an emotional crutch," Jobson wrote. "Later, even Diana privately admitted she went too far in burdening him with her problems."

A phone call from the day Diana died still haunts Prince William

Much is known about the fateful day in August 1997 when Princess Diana tragically died. She and her companion, Dodi Fayed, were in Paris at the time and left the Ritz on the night of the 31st. Sadly, the vehicle was involved in a horrific accident, and both Diana and Dodi were killed. What is lesser known, however, is that Diana called her sons earlier that day, and the conversation still haunts Prince William.

As noted by The New Yorker, both Prince Harry And William were at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland on that day, spending time with their extended family. Diana called them in the morning, but both boys were looking forward to playing outside, so they cut the conversation short.

"If I'd known now what was going to happen, I wouldn't have been so blasé about it," William confessed about the phone call during the HBO documentary, "Diana, Our Mother" (via Reader's Digest). For his part, Harry said, "All I do remember is probably regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was" (via BBC).

William was so enthralled by his little brother, he barely let their mother get close

There is a bond between brothers that is hard to put into words, and Princes William and Harry were attached at the hip as kids. Not only does royal life present a number of unique circumstances, but the boys went through tragedy together, solidifying their relationship for years to come. And while their relationship is thought to have become strained, you may not have known how protective William was of Harry when they were little, even keeping the princess at a distance from his younger brother.

In a handwritten letter obtained by Hello! Magazine, Diana wrote that just six months after welcoming Harry, William was protecting him at all costs. "William adores his little brother and spends the entire time swamping Harry with an endless supply of hugs and kisses," Diana wrote, continuing to write, "hardly letting the parents near!" 

William would often accompany Diana to meetings with the press

Prince William is certainly surrounded by the press as an adult — he is second in line to the throne, after all. But back when he was just a kid, William would surprisingly accompany his mother to press meetings, with one, in particular, taking place when he was just 13 years old.

As noted by Vanity Fair, Princess Diana would reportedly use William as "both a stand-in and buffer" in relation to the press, bringing him along to a 1996 deep background interview with Piers Morgan. Morgan recalled that Diana gave William permission to question anything she shared during the interview, as she confessed on a number of topics. This was, of course, a choice that bucked royal tradition. The publication further noted that the idea of Kate Middleton taking Prince George to an expository press interview is mind-boggling in comparison.

William admitted that he didn't understand his own feelings in the wake of his mother's death

For many, the image of young Prince William and little Prince Harry walking behind their mother's casket is burned into their brains. It was a tragic day, no question about it, and the two young princes certainly held their own in the wake of such public outcry. But in the HBO documentary, "Diana, Our Mother," William unexpectedly revealed that while he was shattered by the passing of his mother, he struggled — at the time — to put his experience into words.

"There's nothing like it in the world," William said in the documentary (via Town&Country). "There really isn't. It's like an earthquake has just run through the house and through your life and everything. Your mind is completely split. And it took me a while for it to actually sink in."

William further shared that while the royal family rallied around him and Harry, his young age stopped him from fully realizing what he had actually gone through. "Being so small at that age, it was very difficult to communicate or understand your feelings. It's ... it's very complicated," he said.

William was reportedly very protective of his mother, even when he was young

If one thing is clear from the more unknown aspects of Prince William's relationship with Princess Diana, it's that the young prince had such a soft spot for his mom. That element of their relationship was furthered even more by a report from the BBC's former royal correspondent Jennie Bond, who claimed that young William once slipped his mother tissues under the bathroom door when he heard her crying. Bond went on to say that William would promise to "look after" his mom.

"It was all the wrong way round for William," Bond told Express of the dynamic between the mother and son. "He was having to comfort his mother when she should have been looking after him — he was just a little boy."

Bond's comments on William's protective instincts where his mother was concerned were furthered by author Howard Hodgson, who wrote the book, "Charles — The Man Who Will Become King." According to Express, Diana became somewhat emotionally detached as a result of her experiences, but William was always there to support her.

Shortly before her death, William allegedly told his mother to leave Britain

Princess Diana certainly used press attention to her advantage at times, but the ways in which she was followed by the paparazzi remain some of the most grueling advances by photographers in modern times. The attention got so bad, in fact, that Prince William reportedly encouraged his mother to leave the United Kingdom for a time in order to gain a little bit of freedom from the cameras — sadly, his words came very shortly before her death, as noted by Express.

Recalling an interaction he had with Diana in the 2007 documentary, "Diana: Last Days of a Princess," royal photographer Arthur Edwards confessed that a conversation he had with the former royal left a lasting impression on him (via Express). "Suddenly, [Diana] strode down some steps and very rapidly got into a boat," he said. "I remember picking up the camera and she said, 'No pictures.' ... She came over and said, 'Why are you here?'" In reply, the photographer said, "Because you are here ma'am," Diana retorted, "William's told me that I should leave England and go and live somewhere else." Of the interaction, Edwards reflected, "I thought, 'I don't want to be the reason why she's going to live in exile.'"

Diana had a specific wish for William's time as king

Of all the royal drama, scandal, and strife of modern years, Princes William and Harry's public rift has been perhaps the most well-documented. The brothers have rarely seen eye to eye, as of this writing, with the bulk of the drama seemingly commencing after Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot. Of course, it's safe to say that many of us have thought about Princess Diana during the brothers' quarrels, thinking about how saddened she'd be knowing that her sons are at odds. However, it may go deeper than that, as royal expert and Princess Diana's biographer Andrew Morton revealed.

While appearing on ITV's "Loose Women," Morton recalled, "[Diana] said to me quite clearly on several occasions that she saw Harry as the wingman for William in what would be a very solitary, somber job as future king," clearly indicating that the princess had desires for William's eventual reign. "She would have been very upset at the way these two have split apart," he added. For her memory, here's hoping that the two brothers mend their relationship with time.