Prince Harry Recalls Princess Diana's Funeral and Admits No One Wants to Be King or Queen

Newsweek talks to the royal about the legacy he wants to leave behind

By Zach Johnson Jun 22, 2017 11:30 AMTags

Prince Harry has seen and done a lot in his 32 years.

In a candid conversation with Newsweek's Angela Levin, Harry looks back on the death of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in 1997. "She had the most wonderful sense of humor and always wanted to make things fun for us," he says, "as well as protect us."

Sharing fond memories his mother—and carrying on her charitable legacy—comes easily. But talking about Diana's funeral is much more difficult for Harry, who was 12 at the time. "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," Harry recalls. "I don't think it would happen today."

Getty Images; AP

Harry "shut down" his emotions for nearly two decades, until his older brother Prince William encouraged him to seek professional help at age 28. "My search began when I was in my mid-20s," says Harry, who admits he partied too hard. "I needed to fix the mistakes I was making."

The prince now wants to be seen as a passionate, emotional person. "Sometimes, I can have too much passion," he tells Newsweek. "It has got me into trouble in the past, partly because I cannot stand the idea of people mincing around the subject rather than just getting on with it."

Now that he's older, Harry can better appreciate his role in the royal family.

Here's Proof That Prince Harry Was Always Fit to be a ''Cool Dad''
Chris Radburn - WPA Pool/Getty Images

"My mother died when I was very young. I didn't want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good. I am now fired up and energized and love charity stuff, meeting people and making them laugh," says Harry, who retired from the army two years ago. "I sometimes still feel I am living in a goldfish bowl, but I now manage it better. I still have a naughty streak too, which I enjoy and is how I relate to those individuals who have got themselves into trouble."

Maintaining an "ordinary life" is a top priority. "My mother took a huge part in showing me an ordinary life, including taking me and my brother to see homeless people. Thank goodness I'm not completely cut off from reality. People would be amazed by the ordinary life William and I live. I do my own shopping. Sometimes, when I come away from the meat counter in my local supermarket, I worry someone will snap me with their phone. But I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too," says Harry, who is now fifth in line to the throne. "Even if I was king, I would do my own shopping."

Charles Dharapak - Pool/Getty Images

In a time when stars are "Just Like Us," he hopes there's still an air of mystery about the royal family. "It's a tricky balancing act," says Harry, who declines to discuss his personal life. "We don't want to dilute the magic…The British public and the whole world need institutions like it."

"The monarchy is a force for good, and we want to carry on the positive atmosphere that the Queen has achieved for over 60 years," he continues, "but we won't be trying to fill her boots."

Along with his brother and sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, Harry has been shaking things up a bit. "We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people. Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen?" Harry asks. "I don't think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time."

With so much attention on Prince George and Princess Charlotte, now is the time for Harry to "make something of my life," he tells Newsweek. "I feel there is just a smallish window when people are interested in me before [the siblings] take over, and I've got to make the most of it."