The Duke of Sussex was 12 years old when his mom died from injuries sustained in a car crash in August 1997. At the time, Diana's car was being chased by the paparazzi through the streets of Paris when it collided with a pillar in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel. Diana's partner Dodi Fayed and their chauffeur Henri Paul were also killed in the accident.
Now, in an 60 Minutes interview, the 38-year-old shared how he initially refused to believe that Diana was dead and thought the news of her death was "part of a plan" for her to step away from the public spotlight.
"For a long time, I just refused to accept that she was was gone," he told Anderson Cooper during the Jan. 8 sit-down, explaining how part of his thinking was that Diana "would never" leave him and his older brother Prince William behind. "And William and I talked about it as well. He had similar thoughts."
Admitting this kind of thinking went on for "many, many years," Harry said his teenage self held onto "huge amounts of hope" that Diana was secretly alive. However, all that started to stopped when Harry turned 20 and he said he asked to see the police report of the fatal crash as "proof" of Diana's death.
"The pictures showed the reflection of a group of photographers taking photographs through the window, and the reflection on the window was them," he recalled, noting that he did not view the more gruesome photos from the crash site. "All I saw was the back of my mum's head—slumped on the back seat."
Harry also said that Diana's death really sank in for him when he was 23, when he visited Paris for the first time and asked a driver to take him to the tunnel where the crash happened. "I wanted to see whether it was possible driving at the speed that Henri Paul was driving that you could lose control of a car and plow into a pillar killing almost everybody in that car," he explained. "I need to take this journey. I need to ride the same route."
In a Spanish language version of Harry's upcoming memoir Spare, obtained by NBC News, the Archewell co-founder wrote that he and William, now 40, once wanted to reopen the investigation into their mother's death, but were "persuaded not to."
When asked if he'd still like to reopen the investigation, Harry said in his 60 Minutes interview, "I don't even know if it's an option now."
He added that he doesn't believe he has all the answers as to what happened the night she died, though "I don't think my brother does either."
"I don't think the world does," Harry continued. "Do I need any more than I already know? No. I don't think it would change much."
Spare comes out on Jan. 10.
NBC News has reached out to Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace. They have declined to comment.
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