Prince William recalls 'saddest' memory: royal learnt of Princess Diana's death while in Scotland

The Duke of Cambridge opened up about the happy and sad times he has experienced in Scotland during an address

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, arrives to attend the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh on May 22, 2021, during his  week long visit to Scotland. / AFP / POOL / Jane Barlow

Prince William has opened up about the painful loss of his mother, Princess Diana, in a new speech, saying that one of his "saddest" memories was learning of her death while in Scotland.

The royal spoke at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on Saturday, as part of a week-long tour of the country with wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

During his address, he recalled some of his most significant memories of the country.

"Scotland is incredibly important to me and will always have a special place in my heart. I've been coming to Scotland since I was a small boy," Prince William, 38, said. "As I grew up, I saw how my grandmother relishes every minute she spends here. And my father is never happier than when walking among the hills.

“In short, Scotland is the source of some of my happiest memories. But also, my saddest. I was in Balmoral when I was told that my mother had died.”

Princess Diana died following a car crash in Paris, in the early hours of August 31, 1997.

"Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning," said Prince William.

"And in the dark days of grief that followed, I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors. As a result, the connection I feel to Scotland will forever run deep.”

(FILES) This file photo taken on September 4, 1997 shows (L-R) Prince William, Prince Harry and their father the Prince of Wales stopping outside the gates to Balmoral Castle to look at the floral tributes. 
Twenty years ago on August 31, 1997, Britain's Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a high-speed car crash in Paris. / AFP PHOTO / PRESS ASSOCIATION / CHRIS BACON

Queen Elizabeth II typically travels to Balmoral Castle, a royal estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, every August, where she concludes her summer holiday. She is often joined by other members of the British royal family.

Prince William went on to recall happier memories in the country, more specifically at the University of St Andrews, where he met his wife as a student in 2001.

“Alongside this painful memory is one of great joy. Because it was here in Scotland, 20 years ago this year, that I first met Catherine,” he said.

Last month, the couple celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.

The prince's remarks come days after he released a statement criticising the BBC's controversial 1995 Panorama programme for the deceitful way it obtained an interview with his mother.

He said the programme increased her “fear, paranoia and isolation” in her final years, and that the show had no legitimacy and should never be shown again.

“The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others,” the Duke of Cambridge said in a video message posted to social media.

Seperately, his brother, Prince Harry, said: "The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life".

The princes were responding to the Dyson report, which found that BBC journalist Martin Bashir used false documents to convince Earl Charles Spencer to introduce him to his sister Diana and set up An Interview with HRH the Princess of Wales on November 20, 1995.

The BBC set up the investigation, led by former senior judge John Dyson, in November after allegations from Earl Spencer that he had been tricked.

The inquiry found that Bashir used “deceitful behaviour” and was in “serious breach” of the BBC’s producer guidelines to secure the interview, which made global headlines.