According to an upcoming royal biography, Prince Charles and Princess Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, seriously butted heads when it came to planning her funeral in 1997.
In his book, Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, royal historian and biographer Robert Lacey describes the argument, which he says included a moment when Prince Charles made an "offensive" comment about Diana.
The heart of the men's disagreement was reportedly about the role Prince William and Prince Harry, then 15 and 12, respectively, should play in the funeral. Diana's brother believed she wouldn't have wanted them to have to walk behind her coffin in the funeral procession, but their father apparently wouldn't sway on the issue.
In an excerpt from his new book, Battle of Brothers: William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult, royal historian and biographer Robert Lacey revealed that Charles said something "offensive" about his late ex to her brother, Charles Spencer, while her funeral arrangements were being made.
According to People, which published the early excerpt, Spencer had been engaged in "heated" discussions with palace officials about his sister's funeral arrangements. Specifically, Spencer was opposed to his nephews, Prince William, then 15, and Prince Harry, then 12, walking behind their mother's coffin in the procession to Westminster Abbey.
"Spencer felt quite sure that Diana would have been horrified at the idea of her sons having to endure such an ordeal," Lacey writes. "He had already told Charles as much." Apparently, one of the discussions "had ended with the earl slamming down the phone on his brother-in-law after Charles had made a particularly offensive comment about Diana."
Lacey didn't specify what the offensive comment was, but did elaborate a bit on the argument, writing:
"Prince Charles had no doubt that he should walk the long route with both his sons beside him. But Uncle Charles Spencer did not agree. He was already angry on his family’s behalf that his sister’s funeral had been hijacked into a royal occasion, and he was particularly opposed to the idea that his young nephews should have to walk the best part of a mile behind their mother’s coffin through the streets."
For what it's worth, Spencer's instincts seem to have been correct. Years later, Harry opened up about the experience, saying he doesn't think "any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances."
"My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television. I don't think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances," he told Newsweek magazine in 2017. "I don't think it would happen today."
Battle of Brothers hit shelves later this month, on October 20.
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