Prince William shared both his happiest and "saddest" memories of Scotland as the country where he learned that his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had died in 1997.
On Saturday, the Duke of Cambridge visited the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to fulfill a new role as Lord High Commissioner, as appointed by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. Wife Kate Middleton joined him for the trip, which includes stops to Edinburgh, Fife and Orkney to thank essential workers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a speech published by ITV, William described spending summers in the U.K. country with his family. "In short, Scotland is the source of some of my happiest memories, but also, my saddest," said the 38-year-old royal, explaining that he was visiting Balmoral, the queen's Scottish castle, when he learned that Diana had died in a Paris car crash. At the time of her death, William was 15 and his brother Prince Harry, was 12.
"Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning," said 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."
It was a sensitive week for William and Harry who reacted to the results of a BBC internal investigation which concluded that British journalist Martin Bashir had used deceptive tactics to secure a sit-down interview with Diana in 1995. During that controversial conversation filmed for the television show Panarama, Diana said then-husband Prince Charles (the father of William and Harry) had an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, who is now Charles' wife. Diana also discussed her struggles with disordered eating and her mental state while serving as a royal.
Bashir, who no longer works for the network, apologized for his "stupid" behavior. And on Saturday, former BBC director general Tony Hall resigned from his position at the National Gallery in London to avoid creating a "distraction" in his current role. He also apologized for not investigating Bashir's conduct in the 90s.
On Thursday, after the investigation results were made public, Prince William said, "It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others" adding, "It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her."
In his own statement, Harry called Diana "an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service. She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest. The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life … Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these— and even worse—are still widespread today. Then, and now, it's bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication."
Harry is protective of his wife Meghan Markle, who is pregnant with their daughter, and son Archie, 2.
Prince William ended his Saturday speech by honoring Middleton, the mother of his three children, Prince George, 7, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3. “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. "Needless to say, the town where you meet your future wife holds a very special place in your heart."
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