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10 times the royal family opened up about grief

Some heartbreaking moments...

royals grief
Gemma Strong
Online Digital News Director
September 21, 2022
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The royal family are in mourning following the death of their beloved matriarch, the Queen.

Their grief has been clearly visible throughout recent public appearances - not least at Her Majesty's state funeral.

We take a look back at some of the times the royals have spoken about loss in the hope of supporting and comforting others.

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The Queen Consort on her brother Mark Shand

Camilla's brother Mark Shand died in New York after a tragic fall in 2014.

She later emotionally opened up to The Times about the moment she heard the awful phone call about the news, saying: "An anguished voice on the other end told me that something terrible had happened to my brother; my indestructible brother, Mark. Surely nothing could have happened to him?"

She continued: "He was in New York raising money for his beloved elephants, but an unfamiliar pavement had claimed his all-too-short life following a hugely successful auction for The Elephant Family, a charity he co-founded in 2002."

Camilla concluded: "My charismatic and sometimes infuriating brother, who had survived tsunamis, shipwrecks, poisoned arrows and even the fearsome Komodo dragons, was no longer with us."

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The Princess of Wales comforts grieving mother

After speaking with a grieving mother back in 2014, Princess Kate left the engagement looking quite emotional. Kate comforted Leigh Smith, who tragically lost her three-year-old daughter.

Leigh opened up about the conversation, saying: "Kate sought me out and gave me a hug just before she left. I was getting quite teary-eyed, she had tears in her eyes and she just said to me, 'You’re a very brave lady and again, I'm just so, so sorry.'"

prince harry talks grief princess diana death© Photo: Getty Images

Prince Harry on his mother, Princess Diana

Prince Harry was just 12 years old when his mother Princess Diana died, and he grieved for her alongside his older brother, Prince William. The brothers spoke candidly about how they dealt with grief as teenagers in a 2017 broadcast conversation 20 years after Diana's passing.

Harry said: "This is the first time that the two of us have ever spoken about her as a mother. She was our mum. She still is our mum. And of course, as a son I would say this, she was the best mum in the world. She smothered us with love, that's for sure."

In another interview with mental health journalist Bryony Gordon in 2017, Harry revealed that he received counselling to help cope with the grief, explaining: "I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well."

He continued: "I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle," before concluding: "The experience I have had is that once you start talking about it, you realise that actually you're part of quite a big club." 

MORE: 14 of the sweetest photos of Princess Diana with William and Harry

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Prince William and Kate pay respect to friend Vichai Srivaddhanaprabh

In November 2018, the Prince and Princess of Wales made a poignant visit to the home of Leicester City, where they paid their respects to the five people who died in a helicopter crash the month before.

The football club's chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabh was amongst the victims who were sadly killed outside Leicester City's King Power Stadium.

In the aftermath of the crash, William paid tribute to the "big contribution to football" made by the owner of Leicester City.

"My thoughts today are with the family and friends of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and all the victims of the terrible crash at Leicester City Football Club," he said. "I was lucky to have known Vichai for several years. He was a businessman of strong values who was dedicated to his family and who supported a number of important charitable causes. He made such a big contribution to football, not least through Leicester City's magical 2016 season that captured the imagination of the world."

Prince William, who is the president of the FA, then concluded: "He will be missed by all fans of the sport and everyone lucky enough to have known him."

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Prince William on his mother, Princess Diana

The whole world mourned Princess Diana after she died in a tragic car accident in Paris in 1997. But the two people who were at the forefront of everyone's mind during that time were her two young sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

Now a staunch advocate for men's mental health, William spoke out about how he dealt with the grief over his mother, and why people should be encouraged to talk about the death of a loved one.

In 2017, 20 years after Diana's death, he said: "I know how you feel, I still miss my mother every day and it's 20 years after she died. The important thing is to talk about it as a family, it's OK to feel sad, it's OK for you to miss her."

His touching advice came while speaking to 14-year-old Ben Hines, whose mother had sadly died the previous year. 

prince charles talks children following diana accident© Photo: Getty Images

Prince Charles protects sons, Harry and William

In a BBC documentary in 2017, Prince William revealed that his father, King Charles, and grandmother, the Queen, helped protect him after the death of Princess Diana.

He explained: "At the time, you know, my grandmother wanted to protect her two grandsons, and my father as well. Our grandmother deliberately removed the newspapers, and things like that, so there was nothing in the house at all. So we didn't know what was going on."

Harry also added: "One of the hardest things for a parent to have to do is tell your children that your other parent has died. How you deal with that, I don't know. But he was there for us. He was the one out of two left. And he tried to do his best and to make sure that we were protected and looked after. But he was going through the same grieving process as well."

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Prince William shares the Queen's national grief

Following news of the New Zealand earthquake in 2011, Prince William visited Christcurch, where he made an emotional speech at the memorial service held for victims.

The Prince said: "My grandmother once said that grief is the price we pay for love. Here today we love and we grieve. We honour the lives and memories of all those who died in the earthquake. Put simply, you are an inspiration to all people."

READ: Before they were royal: the jobs Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Sophie Wessex and others had

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The Queen on Princess Diana

Following the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997, the Queen talked about the "unbearably sad" news in her Christmas speech later that year.

She said: "We all felt the shock and sorrow of Diana's death. Thousands upon thousands of you expressed your grief most poignantly in the wonderful flowers and messages left in tribute to her. That was a great comfort to all those close to her, while people all around the world joined us here in Britain for that service in Westminster Abbey."

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The Queen on her mother, Elizabeth

When the Queen Mother died aged 101 on 30 March 2002, her daughter the Queen immediately requested for a statement to be released, which read: "The Queen, with the greatest sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately. Her beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth, died peacefully in her sleep this afternoon, at Royal Lodge, Windsor."

She later broadcast a touching and personal speech, saying: "I have drawn great comfort from so many individual acts of kindness and respect. Over the years I have met many people who have had to cope with family loss, sometimes in the most tragic of circumstances, so I count myself fortunate enough that my mother was blessed with a long and happy life."

She continued: "She had an infectious zest for living and this remained with her until the very end."

The Queen ended by saying: "I thank you also from my heart for the warmth you gave her during her life and the honour you now give her in death." 

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Mother's Day tribute to Princess Diana

In May 2019, the Duchess of Sussex marked her first Mother's Day as a mum by sharing an unseen picture of her newborn baby son Archie. The photograph of Meghan holding her baby boy was posted on the Sussex Royal official Instagram account.

Many were quick to notice Meghan's touching nod to Prince Harry's late mother with the candid picture including a backdrop of Forget Me Nots – Princess Diana's favourite flower. 

The caption next to the photo read: "Paying tribute to all mothers today - past, present, mothers-to-be, and those lost but forever remembered. We honour and celebrate each and every one of you. Today is Mother’s Day in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Japan, and several countries across Europe. This is the first Mother’s Day for The Duchess of Sussex." 

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