earl-spencer

Princess Diana's brother on delivering his heartbreaking eulogy: 'I was out of oxygen'

Earl Spencer famously described Diana as 'the most hunted person of the modern age'

Gemma Strong

Earl Spencer, the younger brother of Princess Diana, has further opened up about the burden of delivering the eulogy at her funeral. Speaking as "the representative of a family in grief, in a country in mourning, before a world in shock", Earl Spencer used the occasion to honour his sister as the "very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty" and to condemn the tabloid media who had hounded her in the last years of her life. In a new interview with People, Earl Spencer reflected on his words at the funeral, including the moment he famously described Diana as "the most hunted person of the modern age". Those words, he said, "summed up so much of the anger I felt towards those who had done that to her".

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Earl Spencer delivering his eulogy for his sister, Princess Diana

The 53-year-old also spoke about his two nephews, Prince William and Prince Harry, then 15 and 12 respectively. "She'd left me as guardian," he explained. "I was looking directly at William and Harry across her coffin. In the final paragraph I had run out of energy, almost out of oxygen. I had to punch each syllable out of the base of my stomach."

With the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death fast approaching on 31 August, Earl Spencer has teamed up with Diana's friend Sir Richard Branson, her wedding dress designer Elizabeth Emanuel and charity partner Vivienne Parry, amongst others, for a two-part TV special on 9 and 10 August titled The Story of Diana.

Pictured with nephews Prince William and Prince Harry at Diana's funeral

Earlier this week, he shared more heartbreaking memories from her funeral, with particular focus the role William and Harry played on the day. Describing the decision to make them walk behind their mother's coffin as "bizarre and cruel", he said he had tried to get the idea dropped but was "lied to and told that they wanted to do it, which of course they didn't".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today: "It was the most horrifying half an hour of my life. It was just ghastly. And it was far worse than having to deliver a speech at the end of it. It was the worst part of the day by a considerable margin, walking behind, well, my sister's body, with two boys who were obviously massively grieving their mother. And it was this sort of bizarre circumstance where we told you had to look straight ahead. But the feeling, the sort of crashing tidal wave of grief coming at you as you went down this sort of tunnel of deep emotion, it was really harrowing actually and I still have nightmares about it now.”

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