Prince William on Diana's death: 'I still feel shock 20 years on. You never get over it'

Hannah Furness
Diana, Princess of Wales, with Prince Harry and Prince William in 1993 - Rex Features

The Duke of Cambridge has told how he still feels the shock of his mother’s death even 20 years later, as he follows Prince Harry’s lead by pledging: "It's time that everyone speaks up."

The Duke, who was 15 when Diana, Princess of Wales, died, said the loss of a parent was “such an unbelievably big moment” that it “never leaves you”, adding: “You never get over it."

Speaking in a new BBC documentary about mental health issues and the London Marathon, he said: “People go ‘shock can’t last that long’ but it does.”

The Duke’s younger brother, Prince Harry, has been universally praised after speaking honestly and in depth about his past for the first time.

Earlier this week, he told the Telegraph he had sought counselling after spending 20 years burying his head in the sand over his mother’s death and enduring two years of “total chaos”.

Attending a screening at the BBC, the Duke told an audience: “The more we have influential and very important people speaking about their issues and their battles, the better."

Princess Diana with her sons Prince Harry and Prince William 

He, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge will each appear in Mind Over Marathon, a documentary about ten “unlikely runners” with different mental health issues training for the London Marathon.

Each of the young Royals spent time with the runners, asking about their training and how it had helped their mental health.

One participant, 39-year-old Rhian Burke, asked the Duke’s advice on how to help her two children cope with the death of their father and one-year-old brother, who both died within five days in 2012.

Diana, Princess of Wales, with Prince William

She said: "Can I ask you one question? When your mum passed away, you were obviously a bit older than my children but I obviously worry about them growing up. They'll be ok, won't they?"

The Duke replied: "They'll be absolutely fine. With a mum like you they'll be absolutely fine.

“Because you're aware of all this, you're already a step ahead of what could happen. You try and understand your emotions a lot more than probably someone who's just lived life without any issues, and that's quite critical.

Prince William with his parents, on tour in Australia in 1983

"It's explaining to them what those emotions mean, why they feel like they do. Once you start rationalising a little bit and and you understand ok, so I'm really angry or really down or really upset about something, then you can kind of relativise it and sort of deal with it.

"Like you said, the shock is the biggest thing.

"I still feel, 20 years later about my mother, I still have shock within me. You know, 20 years later. People go ‘shock can't last that long’ but it does. 

The Duke & Duchess Of Cambridge And Prince Harry are to represent Heads Together at the London Marathon 

"You never get over it. It's such an unbelievably big moment in your life that it never leaves you, you just learn to deal with it.”

The most important thing, he added, was Mrs Burke being there to provide a “blanket of stability and understanding” for her two children.

The Duke said of his mental health now: “I’m very lucky, I’ve got a good support network around me. For those who don’t have that network, that’s where the first cracks start to appear.”

Duke of Cambridge poses with runners from BBC documentary 'Mind over Marathon'

The Duchess spent time with Shereece Foster, 24, who told her she found it difficult to train while looking after her two small children.

"I don't know how you find the time!" said the Duchess. "You're the heroes really because you're standing up there very bravely telling your stories. We hope to shine a light on people like you, because I think that's what the public need to hear."

Speaking on stage after the screening, the Duke - who admitted to feeling emotional after watching the programme - said he believed the nation is “on the cusp of something big” when it comes to changing attitudes about mental health.

He added: “I have my own reasons for being involved in mental health, what happened to me with my mother when I was younger.”

The Duke has also appeared in a video with pop star Lady Gaga, talking to her about mental health issues and declaring: “It’s time that everyone speaks up.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will all be attending the London Marathon, representing Heads Together, to cheer the runners on.

The first part of the programme, Mind over Marathon, will be broadcast at 9pm on BBC One on Thursday

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