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

Prince William 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 
Prince William 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 

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.”

Prince William, prince Harry and prince Charles at Balmoral Castle 20 years ago. Chris Bacon / AFP
Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles stop to look at floral tributes left for Princess Diana at the gates of Balmoral Castle, Scotland, on September 4, 1997. AFP

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.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met as students at the University of St Andrews in 2001. Instagram / Kensington Royal 
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met as students at the University of St Andrews in 2001. Instagram / Kensington Royal

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.

Updated: May 23, 2021 01:54 PM

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