How Prince Harry and Prince William Found Out About Princess Diana's Death

The final season of 'The Crown' showed how Princess Diana's two sons dealt with the aftermath of their mother's tragic death in 1997

<p>Anwar Hussein/Getty </p> Prince William, Princess Diana and Prince Harry in May 1995

Anwar Hussein/Getty

Prince William, Princess Diana and Prince Harry in May 1995

The Crown's final season covers the tragic death of Princess Diana — and how her young sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, coped with the news.

As portrayed in the Netflix show, Prince William and Prince Harry — just 15 and 12 at the time — were at Balmoral Castle in Scotland when their mother died at age 36 in a Paris car crash in August 1997. Queen Elizabeth usually spent her summer months in Scotland with members of the royal family regularly visiting her, and King Charles has kept the tradition going.

In the BBC documentary Diana, 7 Days released in 2017, Prince William recalled "just feeling completely numb, disorientated, dizzy" upon learning about his mother's death.

"You feel very, very confused," William, now 41, said. "And you keep asking yourself, 'Why me?' All the time, 'Why? What have I done? Why? Why has this happened to us?' "

At the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2022, Prince William spoke about his personal connection to the country and how it holds both his "happiest" and "saddest" memories.

"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."

<p>Manuela DUPONT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty</p> Prince William and Princess Diana in 1991

Manuela DUPONT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

Prince William and Princess Diana in 1991

Related: 14 Heartbreaking Quotes About Princess Diana from Prince William and Prince Harry

Prince Harry was told the news about his mother's accident by his father, Charles. Harry, now 39, wrote in his memoir Spare, released early this year, that he was woken up by his father and informed of the crash.

"I remember waiting patiently for Pa to confirm that indeed Mummy was all right," Harry recalled. "And I remember him not doing that."

Charles told his younger son that Diana "didn't make it."

"These phrases remain in my mind like darts in a board," Prince Harry said. "He did say it that way, I know that much for sure. She didn't make it. And then everything seemed to come to a stop."

<p>Martin Keene/PA Images via Getty</p> Prince Harry and Princess Diana in 1991

Martin Keene/PA Images via Getty

Prince Harry and Princess Diana in 1991

Although Prince Harry reflected on his mother's death and the aftermath in Spare, The Crown's creator Peter Morgan recently told Variety that he didn't read the revealing book.

"I've not read a word of it," Morgan said. "Not that I wouldn’t be interested. But I didn’t want his voice to inhabit my thinking too much. I’ve got a lot of sympathy with him, a lot of sympathy. But I didn’t want to read his book."

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<p>Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p> Elizabeth Debicki at The Crown premiere on Nov. 12, 2023


Elizabeth Debicki at The Crown premiere on Nov. 12, 2023

Elizabeth Debicki, who played Princess Diana in The Crown's final seasons,  exclusively told PEOPLE at the Los Angeles premiere that she “learned a lot” playing the late royal.

"I don't think you come anywhere near sort of learning as much as I learned about this character and not feel that the only thing worth doing in life is putting love into the world,” she said.

The actress also opened up about what she discovered about Princess Diana’s personality.

“I mean, I think I learned things about the degree to which she had an enormous and wicked sense of humor, the difficulties that she was facing, the way that she triumphed through them, the way she used her voice in a way that was sort of very progressive at the time,” Debicki said to PEOPLE. “Yeah, I learned a lot.”

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