Prince William says learning of his mother's death while at Balmoral is his saddest memory

prince william princess diana

Beloved by the public for her iconic style and humane approach to royal duty, people across the globe will today mark the sad occasion of Princess Diana's 24th anniversary.

Members of the public have been granted special access to the Princess Diana statue at Kensington Palace's Sunken Garden to pay tribute to the late princess, who died in a fatal car accident in Paris on 31 August 1997.

Though Prince William and Prince Harry reunited earlier this summer to unveil the highly-publicised tribute to their mother, it's thought they will commemorate the day privately.

William and Harry, then aged 15 and 12, were on holiday at Balmoral with the Queen when they were informed of their mother's death – an event that William has called his "saddest" memory in a resurfaced speech from May of this year.

Speaking at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, William spoke of his relationship to Scotland, opening up about how the country is the source of some of his happiest memories – namely, meeting Kate Middleton while a student at student at St Andrews in the mid-noughties – as well as his saddest.

"Along with listening this week, there is something I do want to tell you," he said. "Scotland is incredibly important to me and will always have a special place in my heart. I've been coming to Scotland since I was a small boy.

"As I grew up, I saw how my grandmother relishes every minute she spends here. And my father is never happier than when walking among the hills."

He continued, "In short, Scotland is the source of some of my happiest memories. But also, my saddest. 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," he said. "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."

William went on to talk about some of his happier memories in the country, including his meeting with the Duchess of Cambridge, sweetly saying, "And yet alongside this painful memory, is one of great joy. Because it was here in Scotland – twenty years ago this year — that I first met Catherine."

He also noted that his love for Scotland is something he intends to pass onto his three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

"Needless to say, the town where you meet your future wife holds a very special place in your heart," he continued. "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. We have no doubt they will grow up sharing our love and connection to Scotland from the Highlands to the Central Belt, from the Islands to the Borders."

Our thoughts are with Prince William and Prince Harry on this sad occasion.

Kate McCusker

Kate McCusker is a freelance writer at Marie Claire UK, having joined the team in 2019. She studied fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins, and her byline has also appeared in Dezeen, British Vogue, The Times and woman&home. In no particular order, her big loves are: design, good fiction, bad reality shows and the risible interiors of celebrity houses.