Prince Harry says he held out hope Princess Diana might still be alive and in hiding for years after her death
In his book, "Spare," Prince Harry writes about how he responded in the days and years following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. Harry didn't believe Diana was dead, he told Anderson Cooper.
"For a long time, I just refused to accept that she was— she was gone," Harry said. "Part of, you know, she would never do this to us, but also part of, maybe this is all part of a plan."
"You really believed," Cooper asked, "that maybe she had just decided to disappear for a time?"
"For a time, and then that she would call us and that we would go and join her, yeah," said Harry, who was 12 when his mother died.
"How long did you believe that?" Cooper asked.
"Years. Many, many years," Harry said. "And William and I talked about it as well. He had— he had similar thoughts."
"You write in the book," Cooper said, "'I'd often say it to myself first thing in the morning, 'Maybe this is the day. Maybe this is the day that she's gonna reappear.''"
"Yeah, hope. I had huge amounts of hope," Harry said.
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When Prince Harry was 20, he asked to see the police report about the crash that killed his mother, her boyfriend, Dodi Al-Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul, while they were being pursued by photographers in a Paris tunnel.
"The files contained photographs of the crash scene," Cooper said. "Why did you want to see it?"
"Mainly proof," Harry said. "Proof that she was in the car. Proof that she was injured. And proof that the very paparazzi that chased her into the tunnel were the ones that were taking photographs— photographs of her lying half dead on the back seat of the car."
"You write in the book, 'I hadn't been aware before this moment,' talking about looking at the pictures of the crash scene, 'that the last thing Mummy saw on this earth was a flash bulb,'" Cooper said. "That's what you saw in the pictures?"
"Uh-huh," Harry said, affirmingly. "Well, they were— the pictures showed the reflection of a group of photographers taking photographs through the window, and the reflection on the window was— was them."
"You could actually see the photographers in the reflection?" Cooper asked.
"Yup," Harry said.
He only saw some of the crash photos. His private secretary and adviser dissuaded him from looking at the rest.
"All I saw was the back of my mum's head slumped on the back seat," Harry said. "There were other more gruesome photographs, but I will be eternally grateful to him for denying me the ability to inflict pain on myself by seeing that. Because that's the kind of stuff that sticks in your mind forever."
Harry said, he clung to the fantasy that his mother might have survived until he visited Paris for the first time at age 23.
"You told your driver, 'I want to go to the tunnel where my mom died?'" Cooper asked.
"I wanted to see," Harry said. "I wanted to see whether it was possible driving at the speed that Henri Paul was driving that you could lose control of a car and plow into a pillar killing almost everybody in that car. I need to take this journey. I need to ride the same route where—"
"The same tunnel, the same speed, your mother was going," Cooper said.
"All of it," Harry said. "Yup. Because William and I had already been told, 'The event was like a bicycle chain. If you remove one of those chains, the end result would not have happened.' And the paparazzi chasing was part of that. But yet, everybody got away with it."
A 2006 investigation by London's Metropolitan Police concluded that Diana's driver, Henri Paul, had been drinking and the crash was a "tragic accident."
"William and I considered reopening the inquest," Harry said. "Because there were so many gaps and so many holes in it. It just didn't add up and didn't make sense."
"Would you still like to do that?" Cooper asked.
"I don't even know if it's an option now," Harry said. "But no, I think— brrrr— would I like to do that now? It's a hell of a question, Anderson."
"Do you feel you have the answers that you need to have about what happened to your mother?" Cooper asked.
"Truth be known, no. I don't think I do," Harry said. "And I don't think my brother does either. I don't think the world does. Do I need any more than I already know? No. I don't think it would change much."
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