“One lesson I’ve learned is never let them in too far because it’s very difficult to get them back out again,” Prince William says of the media in the new HBO documentary, Diana, Our Mother, about the late Princess Diana. The message should serve as a warning: those looking for juicy reveals or untold secrets about Diana won’t find them in this glowing remembrance of the princess through her sons’ eyes. Amid dozens of TV documentaries, new books, and re-releases in honor of the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, Diana, Our Mother stood out for snagging the first-ever interview with Princes William and Harry. However, the hourlong-plus special revealed few unknown details about the Princess’s life—it’s more hagiography, though that might not be surprising with William and Harry's involvement. Instead, the facts of life, mainly her charity work, get rehashed by the princes, which is still a true first. And one can always read between the lines. We break down the key takeaways from tonight.
Diana's famously infamous "naughty" side.
Diana was known for breaking down barriers and defying the royal family, and the Princes remember Diana as a similarly mischievous parent. Prince Harry remembers that she often gave the advice: “You can be as naughty as you want, just don’t get caught.” She also once surprised a preteen Prince William with Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, and Cindy Crawford waiting at the top of the stairs for him.
There's some outfit porn.
No doubt serious Royal-philes will have a field day with any new outfits, but we also get some good shots of William and Harry’s matching clover-green, striped red, and equestrian ensembles. “I would love to ask her now because I genuinely think she got satisfaction in dressing William and myself up in the most bizarre outfits,” Harry says. “Also shiny shoes.”
A young Diana...
Many of Diana’s friend speak for the first time in the documentary, such as Harry Herbert, who met her at Balmoral playing golf: “She certainly had a big impact,” he says. I’m sure my shot was violently hooked.” He explained of her global fandom, “They’re all having the ninth green Balmoral moment that I had.”
Also revealed are photographs of Diana as a nanny at age 14, when she would read trashy romance novels and wear men’s shirts. (She also had a penchant for Enya.) Her lady-in-waiting, Anne Beckwith-Smith, called her entry into public life “a baptism of fire.”
... and her very real struggles.
“She was a normal 20-year-old marrying into the British royal family,” Harry says at one point, sympathizing with Diana’s trouble with the spotlight. (He has had his own family and publicity dramas regarding his fiancée Meghan Markle’s entry into the royal family.) The sentiment is echoed by Diana’s brother: “I do feel the girl I grew up with had a bundle of insecurities and unhappinesses.”
William and Harry remember the separation and divorce.
The biggest scandals in Diana’s life get a glossing over, though her separation and divorce from Prince Charles get a mention by the boys. “It was very bitter,” Harry says. “It had a big impact.” The royal photographer Jayne Fincher recalls that the trip to Korea was the turning point: “She looked wretched; he looked wretched. It’s very evident from the pictures.” Apparently the Queen was worried, according to Diana’s friend Harry Herbert, and asked him what was going on. “Was it as bad as it was?” he recalls her asking. “It was a sad discussion.”
The wretched media.
William and Harry understandably have some choice words for the tabloids. “People would be utterly appalled if they knew what went on,” William says, calling the media an industry that lost its “decency” and “perspective.” He added that, “most of the times [Diana] ever cried about anything had to do with press intrusion.”
The final phone call with Diana.
On one of Diana’s last days, the Princes remember getting a phone call at Balmoral from their mother when she was in Paris. Both speak about how between all the shuffling between homes they had an aversion to talking on the phone and cut their conversations short. “I wouldn’t have been so blasé about it,” William says of the call, while Harry more explicitly says he was, “regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was.”
How the boys reacted to news of Diana's death.
“Like an earthquake,” William says. “Your mind is completely split. It really spins you out. You don’t know quite what you’re doing.” Harry divulges, “I grew up thinking not having a mum was normal,” later revealing, “My way of dealing with it was by shutting it out… In the army, it was just white noise.”
William reveals that he and Kate Middleton often talk about “Granny Diana” to their children. What might she have been like as a grandmother? “An absolute nightmare!”