How Prince William and Prince Harry Honored Late Mom Princess Diana on Her 61st Birthday

On Princess Diana's birthday July 1, Prince William wrote a letter in her honor. Read his message here and see how he and Prince Harry have continued to carry on their late mother's legacy.

By Elyse Dupre Jul 01, 2022 4:00 PMTags
Watch: Prince Harry & Prince William Honor Diana's 61st Birthday

Princess Diana dedicated her life to service.

And on July 1, what would have been the late Princess of Wales' 61st birthday, Prince William honored her legacy by sending a letter to the recipients of The Diana Award, an accolade given to young changemakers between the ages of 9 and 25 for their social action or humanitarian work.

"Congratulations on receiving The Diana Award today!" he wrote. "You are part of an inspirational generation of young people who are changing the world through your actions, and I hugely admire your efforts."

The Duke of Cambridge went on to praise the "remarkable" stories of the recipients. "Many of you face huge challenges in the face of difficult times," he continued, "yet you are tirelessly breaking down barriers to create a better future for us all." 

And he thanked them for their "compassion, bravery and absolute determination," adding, "You truly are the personification of my mother's legacy and I know she would be so proud of you all."

Princess Diana’s Most Iconic Fashion Statements Through the Years

William expressed how he believes "there's no better way to celebrate her life and work than through recognising incredible people who dedicate so much time and effort to helping those around them" and he concluded his letter by congratulating them once again.

"I hope that you stand proud in the knowledge that you are making a real difference," he wrote, "and that you enjoy today's ceremony—you deserve it!"

Chris Jackson/Getty Images, Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

In a surprise video address, Prince Harry also delivered a tribute to his late mom when speaking to the latest recipients of the Diana Award. "This year is also 25 years since her passing," he said. "There isn't a day during the past two and half decades where I haven't thought about the mark she left not only on me and my brother, but on all of our lives."
"I see her legacy in all of you," he continued. "I see her legacy in a Diana Award community that spans multiple generations. I see her legacy every time I meet with families, young people and children from all corners of the world. And, I see my mum's legacy when I look at my own children every day."

Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle are parents to 3-year-old son Archie Harrison and 12-month-old daughter Lilibet Diana.

The virtual ceremony for The Diana Award was held on July 1 and recognized more than 180 individuals from both the U.K. and around the world.

The Diana Award is the only charity that holds the name of Princess Diana. According to the organization, it "upholds Princess Diana's belief that young people have the power to change the world" and continues to be supported by her sons William and Harry. 

While the Duke of Sussex has said the brothers are on "different paths," the two came together on Diana's birthday last year to unveil a statue in her memory. See how else they've continued to carry on her legacy over the years.

By Paying Tribute With a Statue Honoring Diana

On July 1 2021, what would have been Diana's 60th birthday, William and Harry gathered in Kensington Palace's Sunken Garden to unveil a statue of the late Princess of Wales.

"Today, on what would have been our Mother's 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength and character—qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better," they said in a statement shared by the palace. "Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy. Thank you to Ian Rank-Broadley, Pip Morrison and their teams for their outstanding work, to the friends and donors who helped make this happen, and to all those around the world who keep our mother's memory alive."


In 2017, the Sunken Garden was temporarily renamed The White Garden and featured flowers in white and soft pastel colors as a nod to Diana's wardrobe, which was on display at the palace at the time. William and Harry also visited the garden ahead of the 20th anniversary of her death.

By Sharing Their Personal Memories About Diana

In addition, Harry and William marked the anniversary by participating in the HBO documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy. They recalled memories from their childhood and spoke about how she shaped who they are today.

"I give thanks that I was lucky enough to be her son and that I got to know her for the 15 years that I did," William said. "She set us up really well. She gave us the right tools and had prepared us well for life in the best way she could not obviously knowing what was going to happen."

Added Harry, "She was our mum. She still is our mum. And you know, of course as a son, I would say that she's the best mum in the world."

By Continuing Her Work

Harry and William have also carried on their mother's legacy by supporting organizations that were close to her heart. William, for instance, is patron of The Passage, which offers support and resources for people without a home. He first learned about its services during a 1993 visit with Diana and has continued to come by many times over the years. The Duke of Cambridge is also patron of Child Bereavement U.K., which offers support to children and families when a child grieves or dies. Diana attended and supported the non-profit's launch in 1994.

Similarly, Harry is continuing Diana's work of educating the public about HIV/AIDS and shattering stigmas. He's encouraged people to get tested and founded Sentebale—an organization he launched with Prince Seeiso to support young people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. Harry has also championed his mother's landmine clearance work. Diana walked through an active minefield in Angola in 1997 and is often credited with raising awareness for an international treaty against landmines, which was signed shortly after her death. Harry retraced her steps in 2019 and has spoken about the "vital mission of de-mining Angola."

By Remembering Her at Their Weddings

When William proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010, he popped the question with the sapphire and diamond engagement ring that once belonged to his mother. The couple tied the knot in 2011 and made sure to recognize the Princess of Wales on their big day—such as by playing the hymn "Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer," which was sung at Diana's funeral.

Harry also picked significant stones for Meghan Markle's engagement ring when he proposed in 2017—choosing a center diamond from Botswana, which holds a special place in their hearts, and framing it between two diamonds from Diana's personal collection. And on their wedding day in 2018, the Duchess of Sussex walked down the aisle with a bouquet consisting of handpicked blooms from Harry and Forget-Me-Nots, Diana's favorite flower.

By Naming Their Children After Her

When William and Kate's daughter was born in 2015, they named her Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, with the middle monikers being nods to Queen Elizabeth II and Diana. Harry and Meghan also honored the Queen and Princess of Wales by naming their daughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor after she was born in June 2021.

By Telling Their Kids About "Granny" Diana

Harry and William have made sure their little ones know all about Diana. In March, for instance, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge revealed that, every year on Mother's Day, their children—Prince GeorgePrincess Charlotte and Prince Louis—make cards remembering "Granny" Diana for William. And in Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, William said he's "constantly" talking about her with the kids.

"I do regularly, putting George and Charlotte to bed, talk about her and just trying to remind them that there are two grandmothers. There were two grandmothers in their lives," he said in the 2017 doc. "And so, it's important that they know how she was and she existed." 

And in his Apple TV+ docuseries with Oprah Winfrey, titled The Me You Can't See, Harry recalled how one of the first words said by his son Archie Harrison was "grandma." 

"I've got a photo up in his nursery, and it was one of the first words that he said—apart from 'mama,' 'papa,' it was then 'grandma.' Grandma Diana," he said. "It's the sweetest thing, but at the same time, it makes me really sad because she should be here."

By the Way They Live Their Lives

"There's not many days that go by that I don't think of her, you know?" William said in Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy. "Sometimes sad, sometimes very positively. You know, I have a smile every now and again when someone says something, and I think that's exactly what she would have said or she would have enjoyed that comment. So, they always live with you—the people that you lose like that—and my mother lives with me every day."

"I have no doubt that my mum would be incredibly proud of me," Harry said in The Me You Can't See. "I'm living the life that she wanted to live for herself, living the life she wanted us to be able to live. So, not only do I know she's incredibly proud of me but that she's helped me get here. And I've never felt her presence more as I have done over the last year."


Originally published on Friday, July 1, 2022 at 5:36 a.m. PST

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