Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married in 1981 and welcomed their first child, Prince William, a year later. By the time their second son, Prince Harry, was born in 1984 things between the couple were reportedly rocky and their marriage began to crumble.
The Prince and Princess of Wales separated in 1992 and when Diana gave her explosive Panorama interview three years later, she spoke about her husband’s infidelity and how she told her oldest son about Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Here’s what the princess told William and how he reacted to the news.
How Diana broke the news to her son
After Diana and Charles’ separation, the princess invited TV cameras into Kensington Palace and gave a candid sit-down interview to BBC journalist Martin Bashir. In that interview, she revealed what she told William about his father’s affair.
“I went to the school and put it to William, particularly, that if you find someone you love in life you must hang on to it and look after it, and if you were lucky enough to find someone who loved you then one must protect it,” she recalled saying.
The princess continued, “William asked me what had been going on, and could I answer his questions, which I did. He said, was that the reason why our marriage had broken up? And I said, well, there were three of us in this marriage, and the pressure of the media was another factor, so the two together were very difficult.”
Diana added that she explained to her son, “Although I still loved Papa I couldn’t live under the same roof as him, and likewise with him.”
How Prince William reacted
Diana also told Brashir that she was a little worried about how William would take everything.
“He’s a child that’s a deep thinker, and we don’t know for a few years how it’s gone in,” she said. “But I put it in gently, without resentment or any anger.”
William’s younger brother, Prince Harry, did not find out the same way his sibling did. Instead of hearing it from his mother, the younger prince heard about it while watching a program about his mom titled Diana: The Woman Inside.
At the time though Harry was too young to absorb what was being said and reportedly asked who Camilla was when her name was mentioned in the documentary.
How William felt after his mother’s tell-all interview
Several members of the royal family were angry about Princess Diana’s interview including Prince William.
In the Amazon Prime documentary William and Harry: Brothers in Arms, Vanity Fair’s Royal Correspondent Katie Nicholl claimed that the elder prince was very angry with his mom after the interview aired.
“William was exposed to everything from the interview and called his mother in a fury and a rage,” Nicholl said. She then recalled a conversation she had with Diana’s close friend, Simone Simmons, who told her that
“It was the one time William turned on his mother and said, that he would never forgive Diana for what she’d done.”
“He simply could not believe that his mother had invited the television cameras into the home he had grown up in and loved, to betray his father and their family in such a public way,” Nicholl wrote in her book titled William and Harry.
In 2017, William said that he finally understood why his mother chose to do the interview in the first place.
“I can understand — having sometimes been in those situations, you feel incredibly desperate and it is very unfair that things are being said that are untrue,” the future king explained. “The easiest thing to do is just to say or go to the media yourself. Open that door. [But] once you’ve opened it you can never close it again.”