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LONDON, July 23, (Agencies): Britain’s Prince William and Harry have spoken of their regret over the last conversation they had with their mother Princess Diana before she died, saying the telephone call was “desperately rushed”.
In a documentary called “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy” timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death in a Paris car crash on Aug 31, 1997, the two princes said they spoke to their mother shortly before she died.
“Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye, you know ‘see you later’ … if I’d known now obviously what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have been so blase about it and everything else,” Prince William said.
Prince Harry said: “It was her speaking from Paris, I can’t really necessarily remember what I said but all I do remember is probably regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was.”
Nick Kent, the film’s executive producer, told Reuters he believed the document offered a glimpse of “the private Diana”.
“Nobody has ever told this story from the point of view of the two people who knew her better than anyone else, and loved her the most: her sons.”
The princes recall their mother’s sense of humour, with Prince Harry describing her as “one of the naughtiest parents”. They also recall the pain of their parents’ divorce and how they dealt with the news of her death and its aftermath.
While the film addresses aspects of Diana’s life such as her charity work involving HIV and landmines, it shies away from some other issues, such as extra-marital affairs.
According to the makers, however, the British royals were very open and did not put any subject off limits. Rather, they wanted to cover new ground and make a different type of film.
“What we had in mind is that in years to come, Prince William and Prince Harry would be happy to show this film to their own children and say this is who your grandmother was”, Kent said.
“Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy” will be broadcast on British and US television on July 24.
A number of commemorative events have been planned to mark Diana’s death.
William and Harry attended a private service this month to rededicate her grave and the brothers have commissioned a statue to be erected in her honour outside their official London home.
Rarely-seen possessions of Diana, including her music collection and ballet shoes, went on display on Saturday at Buckingham Palace. An exhibition celebrating Diana’s fashion opened in February.
The show is one of a series of tributes to Diana expected as the 20th anniversary of her death on Aug 31, 1997, approaches.
It is only in the last year that William and Harry have spoken openly in public about their feelings about the sudden loss of their mother. William — second-in-line for the British throne after his father Prince Charles — was only 15 at the time. Harry was only 12.
The documentary chronicles Diana’s charitable works, including her historic outreach to AIDS victims and her campaign to ban land mines.
William and Harry also stress their mother’s fun-loving side, which they say the public generally didn’t see.
“Our mother was a total kid through and through. When everybody says to me ‘so she was fun, give us an example,’ all I can hear is her laugh in my head,” says Harry.
William tells a story that reveals the privileged life they led as children. One day, Diana surprised him by having three of the world’s top models waiting for him when he got home from school.
“She organized when I came home from school to have Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell waiting at the top of the stairs. I was probably a 12- or 13-year-old boy who had posters of them on his wall,” William said. “I went bright red and didn’t know quite what to say. And sort of fumbled and I think pretty much fell down the stairs on the way up.”
William says he frequently tells his children — Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2 — about Diana so she can be a presence in her grandchildren’s lives.
“She’d be a lovely grandmother. She’d absolutely love it, she’d love the children to bits,” he said.
To mark the 20th anniversary of her death, the princes announced earlier this year they were setting up a committee to raise funds to pay for a statue of Diana, who was known as the Princess of Wales.
The statue is to be erected in the public gardens of Kensington Palace in London, where she lived.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is putting gifts received from world leaders on display at Buckingham Palace, with the eclectic collection including presents from the likes of Nelson Mandela and John F. Kennedy.
A remarkable array of over 200 gifts went on display from Saturday, providing an intriguing reminder of the globetrotting lifestyle and international encounters of the 91-year-old sovereign.
“One of the most universal aspects of the Queen’s meetings with other heads of state, both at home and abroad, is the exchange of gifts,” said Sally Goodsir, assistant curator of the new “Royal Gifts” exhibition.
Since her accession to the throne in 1952, Elizabeth has travelled more than 1 million miles (1.6 million kms) around the world and taken part in 89 state visits abroad.
At the same time, she has welcomed more than 100 leaders to Britain for formal state visits.
“The exchange is a gesture of goodwill and these gifts are representative of traditional skills or of cultural significance and speak of a nation of culture’s history and traditions,” explains Goodsir.
Although hugely diverse, these symbols of friendship have often involved an exchange of signed photographs.
These include one from US president John F. Kennedy in 1961, who along with his wife Jackie was invited to dine at Buckingham Palace while on an unofficial visit to London.
The gifts on display also include a handwritten note of Kennedy’s “high esteem” for his royal host.
Thirty-five years later, the queen met with another great figure of the 20th century when she welcomed Nelson Mandela for a state visit. The then South African president offered the monarch a silk scarf depicting bushmen hunting a herd of eland in his country’s Eastern Cape region.