Prince Harry is, it’s safe to say, an extremely wealthy man. As a member of the British royal family, he has access to things of which most regular people could never dream. Yet one of his most important possessions is valuable not because of its cost but owing to its sentimental value. In fact, Harry has worn the item for almost two decades now, and he will probably never give it up. It’s a simple piece of jewelry – but to Harry it might as well be worth all the money in the world.
Prince Harry and his brother William had an upbringing that was somewhat unusual for royal children. Why, exactly? Well, their mother, Princess Diana, seemingly swooped in and changed the rules for them. While princes and princesses had traditionally been raised within strict confines, Diana refused to follow suit. For one, she organized her royal schedule around her kids rather than the other way around.
Diana took William and Harry on outings, chose the school that her children would attend and even let them eat at McDonald’s. And, perhaps most importantly of all, she tried to raise them without a feeling of entitlement and encouraged in them a sense of responsibility. When William and Harry were still young, she took them to a homeless shelter, for instance, and she expected them to be kind to everyone they met there.
Diana’s work seemingly paid off too. As William and Harry grew into adulthood, it became clear that they were making charitable efforts a priority in their lives. And one of Harry’s endeavors has been in the fight against HIV and AIDS – a cause that his mother supported while she was alive. In 2006 Harry, together with Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso, co-founded Sentebale – a charity for children with HIV.
Furthermore, both of Diana’s sons have used their weddings to raise money for charity. When Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, for example, he requested that well-wishers donate money to chosen charities instead of buying wedding gifts for the couple.
In fact, William and Kate suggested a diverse range of charities for the event. Among them were organizations that use sport and activities to educate children, such as PeacePlayers International and Dance United. Others were environmental charities, including The Zoological Society of London and Earthwatch. And various projects that help people facing grief were also accommodated.
Then when Prince Harry married former actress Meghan Markle in 2018, he followed in his brother’s footsteps. The ceremony, of course, attracted global interest, and once more the bride and groom requested donations in lieu of gifts. Taking inspiration, perhaps, from William and Kate, Harry and Meghan’s choices included environmental, sports-related and bereavement charities.
And thankfully, both royal weddings were tremendous successes in more ways than one. Millions of people tuned in to watch the televised events, and lots of money was raised for charity. But what about after the ceremonies? Well, William and Kate have gone on to have three children together: Prince George, who is third in line to the throne, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Harry and Meghan, meanwhile, announced their first pregnancy only a few months after their May 2018 wedding. Just as they were heading off on a tour of New Zealand and Australia in October, they broke the news that Meghan was expecting. And the baby’s due date is in spring 2019, the social media accounts of Kensington Palace revealed.
But, of course, there was someone important missing from all of these major events in William and Harry’s lives. On August 31, 1997, Princess Diana was unexpectedly killed, leaving her two young sons bereft. She was involved in a serious car accident in Paris, and the crash claimed her life.
As you can imagine, the media coverage of Diana’s death and funeral was intense. In fact, the royal family – of which Diana was technically no longer a part since her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996 – had never faced anything quite like it. And in the middle of it all were William and Harry, then aged just 15 and 12 respectively.
On the day of Diana’s funeral, William and Harry ended up walking to the rear of their mother’s casket. But in later years, the brothers would express mixed feelings about having done so. “My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” Harry told Newsweek in 2017.
“I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today,” Harry went on. And his older brother apparently feels much the same way too. In an interview with the Daily Express in 2017, for instance, he described the procession behind Diana’s coffin as “one of the hardest things [he’s] ever done.”
What’s more, in the weeks following Diana’s death, it seems that everything became too much for Harry and William – so their concerned father decided that it was time to intervene. Prince Charles took his sons away to Africa, far from the prying eyes of the world’s press. “My dad told my brother and me to pack our bags. We were going to Africa to get away from it all,” Harry told lifestyle magazine Town and Country in 2017.
In fact, Harry ended up falling in love with the African continent. “This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world. I wish I could spend more time in Africa,” he confessed to Town and Country. “I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here – to not get recognized, to lose myself in the bush with what I would call the most down-to-earth people on the planet.”
And while in Africa, mourning the death of his mother, Harry was apparently given a special gift. That’s right: at some point on the trip, it’s believed that he picked up a gold-and-black bracelet – a souvenir that has stayed with him ever since. He was first spotted wearing the band all the way back in 2001, but he never outgrew it or stored it away.
Indeed, Harry’s bracelet has been present during many of the most important moments of his life. When he announced his engagement to Meghan Markle, for instance, the pair had a photoshoot in the grounds of Kensington Palace. And those who examined the photographs carefully would have noticed Harry’s bracelet on his right wrist.
That wasn’t all, though. It seems that Harry also wore the bracelet for his wedding day on May 19, 2018 – one of the most special events of his life. Yes, when he and Meghan left Windsor Castle for their reception at Frogmore House, Harry waved to the cameras from his car, and the same piece of jewelry could be seen.
And Harry has also been spotted wearing the accessory for events honoring Diana’s work. In 2007, for example, he wore the bracelet while greeting a family from the African country of Angola – where his mother had been heavily involved with anti-mine charities. Indeed, in 1997, not long before her death, Diana had actually entered an area with live mines – albeit under supervision.
But while William and Harry have spent a lot of their adulthoods continuing Diana’s charitable legacy, they appear keen to remember her as a mother too. For example, in 2017 the brothers were involved with an HBO documentary called Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, during which they talk about the side of Diana that the media didn’t see.
For one thing, Harry remembers her sense of humor. “Our mother was a total kid through and through,” he reveals during the documentary. “One of her mottoes to me was, you know, ‘You can be as naughty as you want; just don’t get caught.’ She was one of the naughtiest parents. She would come and watch us play football and, you know, smuggle sweets into our socks.”
William, meanwhile, shared how he has given his own children a sense of the grandmother they will never know. “I do regularly bring George and Charlotte to bed and talk about her,” he explains in the film. “[I] just try to remind them [that] there are two grandmas – were two grandmas – in their lives… It’s important [that] they know who she was and [that] she existed.”
“She’d be a nightmare grandma, absolute nightmare,” William went on affectionately. “She’d love the children to bits, but she’d be an absolute nightmare. She’d come and go. She’d probably come at bath time, cause an amazing amount of sea and bubbles and bathwater all over the place and then leave.”
Interestingly, William, too, is thought to own an African bracelet similar to Harry’s – and which he was given on the same trip. But why is he not spotted wearing his as much? Well, in December 2018 Royal biographer Penny Junor told Vogue that William tends to be less sentimental about jewelry than his brother is. Even his wedding ring is not something that he wears, although Kate is reportedly fine with this.
Yet both of Diana’s sons have welcomed their respective wives into the family using pieces of her jewelry. After Diana died, you see, the boys were told that they could pick out anything of hers that they wanted. And Diana’s one-time butler Paul Burrell detailed this event in a 2017 Amazon Prime documentary titled The Diana Story.
According to Burrell, it was William who first picked out his mother’s wristwatch. “I’d like mummy’s Cartier watch – the one that Grandpa Spencer gave to her for her 21st birthday,” Burrell recounted the older prince as having said. Then after that it was Harry’s turn, and the younger boy apparently selected Diana’s sapphire engagement ring.
“I remember when I held mummy’s hand when I was a small boy and that ring always hurt me because it was so big,” Burrell claimed Harry had said at the time. But when the princes grew older, Harry decided to commit a selfless act. He gave William their mother’s ring in order that William could give it to Kate.
And when William announced in November 2010 that he was getting married to Kate, he told the press about the engagement ring. He said, “It is very special to me, and Kate is very special to me now as well. It is only right [that] the two are put together.” William added, “It is my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement.”
As for Harry, he made sure that Diana’s jewelry was involved in his relationship with Meghan as well. The engagement ring that he gave to her was, you see, made from two stones that had once belonged to Diana. And the largest gem had been mined in Botswana, where Harry and Meghan had vacationed while courting – another nod to Africa.
What’s more, Meghan and Kate have both been seen sporting other pieces of Diana’s jewelry. On the day that Harry married Meghan, for instance, he reportedly gave her an aquamarine cocktail ring that had belonged to his mother. Diana had worn it in place of her engagement ring after divorcing Prince Charles, and eventually it had found its way to Harry.
And when the pregnant Meghan toured Australia with Harry in October 2018, she wore some of Diana’s jewelry then as well. The butterfly earrings that she was photographed wearing had apparently belonged to Diana, who had worn them after Harry was born. Meghan was also spotted with a gold bracelet that Diana had sported as a newlywed.
Kate Middleton, meanwhile, has opted to accessorize her outfits with a lot of Diana’s jewelry too. One of the latter’s favorite pieces – the appropriately named Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara – has been seen on Kate’s head in recent years, for one. And she also has a pair of sapphire earrings that belonged to Diana, although they have been reworked into drop-style pieces.
Kate also seems to dress like Diana rather a lot. She wore blue for her engagement photo, for example – just as Diana had worn blue for hers. And when Kate showed the newborn Prince George to the waiting crowd outside the Lindo Wing at London’s St Mary’s Hospital in 2013, she was dressed in a polka-dot dress similar to one that Diana had worn after having Prince William.
But despite such touching tributes, the scars of Diana’s death still remain with William and Harry. In the aforementioned 2017 TV documentary, the sons recall the last conversation that they had with their mother – a phone call – before she died. Both deeply regret that it was such a short and hurried call, too – even though they were, after all, only children at the time.
“Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye – you know, ‘see you,’” William recounts during the documentary. “If I’d known now, obviously, what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have been so blasé about it and everything else. But that phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily.” And Harry spoke to his mother on the phone that day too.
“It was her speaking from Paris. I can’t really necessarily remember what I said, but all I do remember is probably regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was,” Harry said. “Looking back on it now, it’s incredibly hard. I’ll have to sort of deal with that for the rest of my life – not knowing that was the last time I was going to speak to my mum.”
In fact, Harry suffered long-term mental health problems following the death of his mother, and he’s been refreshingly open about them. In a 2017 interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said that Diana’s death had affected him so much that he had “shut down all his emotions” and that William had had to encourage him into therapy.
Indeed, Harry admitted that he was “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.” Eventually, he did seek help, however, and it worked. “During those years I took up boxing, because everyone was saying boxing is good for you, and it’s a really good way of letting out aggression,” Harry explained.
“And that really saved me, because I was on the verge of punching someone, so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier,” Harry went on. In time, then, and with the help of his brother, he found his way to a better mindset. And the prince has since spoken out about the experience as part of a desire to help break the stigma around mental health.
William and Harry have, it seems, done good jobs of coming to terms with the heartbreaking bereavement that they suffered in their childhoods, with both of them now in the process of building their own families. And ever since the impending birth of Harry and Meghan’s child was announced, bookmakers have been taking bets on what the baby’s name might be. For a girl, the frontrunner is “Diana.”