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Prince William opens up about ‘dark days of grief’ after Diana’s death

The Duke of Cambridge revealed a painful memory about how he learned of his mother’s death (Picture: PA)

Prince William has opened up about his ‘dark days of grief’ in the wake of his mother Diana’s death.

The Duke of Cambridge, 38, revealed a ‘painful memory’ about how he learned his mum had died when he was at the Queen’s Balmoral home in Scotland.

He told how the country is the source of some of his saddest memories, but also his happiest – describing it as a place where he found ‘comfort and solace’.

The Duke recalled the tragedy during an opening address at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland today.

It comes as both Prince William and brother Prince Harry launched a scathing attack on the BBC over the effect of the infamous 1995 Panorama interview on Diana’s life.

Prince William said the interview by Martin Bashir exacerbated his mother’s ‘fear, paranoia and isolation’ and blamed it for ‘making my parents’ relationship worse’.

Meanwhile Prince Harry has told how he turned to drink and drugs to cope with the trauma of losing Diana aged 12 in 1997.

Prince William said in his speech to the Assembly: ‘Scotland is a source of some of my happiest memories but also my saddest.

Prince William makes scathing attack on BBC over treatment of Diana

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Prince William, pictured with mum Diana and Prince Harry in 1995 (Picture: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Prince William and Harry, pictured at Diana’s funeral in 1997, have spoken candidly about their grief (Picture: Reuters)

‘I was in Balmoral when I was told that my mother had died.

‘Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning 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.’

The Duke also reminisced meeting his future wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, 20 years ago, a memory he described as bringing ‘great joy’.

‘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.

‘Needless to say, the town where you meet your future wife holds a very special place in your heart,’ he said.  

‘George, Charlotte and Louis already know how dear Scotland is to both of us and they are starting to build their own happy memories here too.’

Prince William, pictured with the Duchess of Cambridge and son Louis, reminisced over meeting his future wife in Scotland
The couple met 20 years ago and have just marked their 10 year wedding anniversary (Picture: AP)

He also recalled his time at the University of St Andrews in Fife, where both he and Kate studied.  

‘I spent four very happy and formative years studying in St Andrews, the town and the students left me alone to get on with student life, allowing me to share their freedoms – and their pubs.’

And the future monarch insisted Scotland was ‘incredibly important’ to him and would always have a ‘special place in my heart’.

‘I’ve been coming to Scotland since I was a small boy,’ he told the audience.

‘As I grew up I saw how my grandmother relishes every minute she spends here and my father is never happier than in walking among the hills.

‘My childhood was full of holidays having fun in the fresh air, swimming in lochs, family barbecues with my grandfather in command, and yes the odd midge.’

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on Friday, beginning a week-long visit to Scotland (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/ WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince William was greeted by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this morning ahead of his speech (Picture: PA)

William, appointed by the Queen as Lord High Commissioner to the assembly, was greeted by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as he arrived. He is also set to have a private audience with the Scottish National Party leader.

The event is taking place in ‘blended’ form due to the pandemic, with a only a small number of people at the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh and others watching online.

It is part of the Duke’s week-long visit to Scotland, with the Duchess due to join him from Monday.

He added: ‘As we try to emerge from a long period of uncertainty and turmoil, I am grateful for the chance I will get this week to really listen, with humility and compassion, to many people in Scotland, from all walks of life, from different traditions, and from all faiths, and none.’

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