How Princess Diana Influenced Prince William and Prince Harry’s Parenting Approach

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first child arrives soon and among the many questions their fans have are what kind of parents will they be? Did Princess Diana’s parenting approach influence her sons’ parenting styles?

Princess Diana On Holiday With Sons Prince William and Prince Harry
Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry | Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Princess Diana was a hands-on parent

It’s well documented that Princess Diana was a very involved and hands-on mother to her sons, Prince Harry and Prince William. It’s evident that William is taking this same approach with his three children, Prince George, Prince louis, and Princess Charlotte, and it’s expected that Prince Harry will follow this example too.

In the ITV documentary Secrets of the Royal Babies: Meghan and Harry, royal biographer Duncan Larcombe claimed that Prince Harry will take a similar approach to fatherhood that William has.

Larcombe noted that Princess Diana wanted her sons to have a “normal and private life” despite their royal fame. Prince William and Kate Middleton have very much adopted this method as well, taking extra measures to keep their children out of the spotlight.

Princess Diana with her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry
Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry | Tim Graham/Getty Images

How Princess Diana kept the princes’ lives normal

Princess Diana had her children’s best interests in mind, as Larcombe explained: “Diana made sure William and Harry lived as much as a normal life as possible and as parents, William and Harry will always be influenced by their mother. Her desire to give them a taste of normality runs through the veins of William and Harry.”

ABC News royal correspondent Victoria Arbiter further explained the “long-lasting legacy that Diana has left William and Harry… She took them outside the palace walls.”

Prince William also elaborated in a 2012 interview with Katie Couric the impact Princess Diana had on their lives, explaining: “She played a huge part in my life and Harry’s growing up, in how we saw things and how we experienced things.”

He added: “She very much wanted to get us to see the rawness of real life. And I can’t thank her enough for that, ’cause reality bites in a big way, and it was one of the biggest lessons I learned is, just how lucky and privileged so many of us are — particularly myself.”

Patrick Jephson, Princess Diana’s chief of staff for six years, told ABC News some of the ways that Diana kept things normal for her children, sharing: “She made sure that they experienced things like going to the cinema, queuing up to buy a McDonalds, going to amusement parks, those sorts of things that were experiences that they could share with their friends.”     

Princess Diana with her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry
Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry | Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images

The princes ‘are mentors to each other’

Prince Harry need only look to William for some parenting inspiration, which Larcombe shared is quite likely, as “Harry tends to follow in his brother’s footsteps and weirdly William tends to follow in Harry’s footsteps. They are mentors to each other. So I would expect when Harry becomes a dad he will look at Kate and William’s example and follow that almost to the letter.”

Additionally, a source told ET that Prince Harry and Markle will instill their values in their children, noting: “Meghan and Harry, who want to use their platform and profile to further their humanitarian and charitable interests, want to pass on those same values to their children.”