It’s a moment in every parent’s life that they’ll always remember; the first time a clearly defined word emerges from their baby’s nonsensical noises and babbling. Ordinarily it’s a moment marked by pride and excitement, perhaps tinged with a small dose of sadness that their baby is moving into a different phase of life. But for Prince Harry — whose son Archie that he shares with Meghan Markle has recently turned two — it was also a reminder of the great loss he suffered as a boy, when his mother, Princess Diana, was tragically killed in a car accident.
In his new AppleTV+ docuseries, which he co-created with Oprah Winfrey, The Me You Can’t See, the 36-year-old recounted how one of Archie’s first words was ‘Grandma’ and later “Grandma Diana.”
‘I’ve got a photo of her in his nursery, and it was one of the first words that he said,’ Harry recounts, ‘apart from “mama”,”‘papa”, it was then “grandma”. “Grandma Diana”.’ It was an experience that provoked mixed feelings for the father, who’s expecting his second child, this time a girl, with Meghan Markle later this summer. ‘It’s the sweetest thing, but at the same time, it makes me really sad because [Princess Diana] should be here.’
Parenthood for anyone can bring up emotions around their own childhood and their relationships with their parents. For the Duke of Cambridge, who is now the age his mother was when she died, watching his son grow in his mother’s absence must be especially poignant.
‘I have no doubt that my Mum would be incredibly proud of me. I’m living the life that she wanted to live for herself, living the life that she wanted us to be able to live’
In the fifth episode of the series, in which Archie can be seen alongside his father, Prince Harry goes into more detail about his sadness at losing his mother so young. ‘I wish she could’ve met Meghan,’ he says. ‘I wish she was around for Archie.’
But he does go on to say that he feels he is living a life of which his mother would approve. ‘Yeah, I have no doubt that my Mum would be incredibly proud of me. I’m living the life that she wanted to live for herself, living the life that she wanted us to be able to live,’ he says. ‘So not only do I know that she’s incredibly proud of me, but that she’s helped me get here. And I’ve never felt her presence more as I have done over the last year.’
At a time when Harry’s mum is once again in the news as a result of the outcome of an investigation into her now famous interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir, his words come as a painful reminder of just how greatly her loss is felt by those close to her.
The news also comes just a few months after Harry’s estranged brother, Prince William, shared that his own children write Mother’s Day cards to his deceased mother, who they touchingly refer to as ‘Granny Diana’.
The loss of a loved one is something that you can never truly escape from, but hopefully, through Princess Diana’s legacy and the commitment her sons have shown to keeping her memory alive, she will remain present in the lives and imaginations of her grandchildren throughout their lives.