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The Truth About Prince Harry's Relationship With Diana's Family

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When it comes to Prince William and Prince Harry, understandably it’s their dad’s side of the family that gets most of the headlines.

Their paternal grandmother is Queen Elizabeth II, so when major milestones occur, it’s the monarch’s rules—the official and the tacitly understood—that have been set in place during her historic reign that tend to monopolize the conversation.

Plus, the queen has four grown kids, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, as well as a sprawling tree of cousins and their progeny. With so many royals to keep track of, it can be easy to forget that that’s only one half of William and Harry’s family.

The Telegraph has reported that their aunt Lady Jane Fellowes, one of Princess Diana‘s two sisters, was among the first people to visit Harry and Meghan Marklefollowing the birth of their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, on May 6—meaning, she met Master Archie (as the title-less little chap will be known for now) before William and Kate Middleton were able to get there.

But the expediency with which Lady Jane got there isn’t particularly surprising. The Spencer side did, after all, promise to look after William and Harry in their mother’s stead, to do their best to balance out the inevitable demands of royal life with the normalcy that Diana wished for them—and the brothers never forgot it.

In turn, Harry and William have enjoyed a more private but equally enduring bond with their mother’s side of the family, and Harry—only sixth in line to the throne and therefore a tad less tethered to the Windsor side than future king William—has kept the Spencers especially close.

For instance, his maternal aunts and uncle were included by name in the initial birth announcement from Buckingham Palace sent last week, which read, “The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news.”

“Really very lovely news today – many, many, congratulations! (Good to have another Taurean in the family….),” Diana’s brother, Charles, 9th Earl Spencer and proud Taurus, tweeted as well, noting Archie’s zodiac sign, which he shares. (Diana was also very into astrology.)

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Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex was safely delivered of a son at 0526hrs this morning. The baby weighs 7lbs 3oz. The Duke of Sussex was present for the birth. The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news. The Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, who is overjoyed by the arrival of her first grandchild, is with Their Royal Highnesses at Frogmore Cottage. Her Royal Highness and the baby are both doing well.

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Earl Spencer, the youngest of the five Spencer children (a brother, John, died in infancy the year before Diana was born), gave one of the most talked-about speeches in contemporary British history in eulogizing his sister in 1997—an address raw in its candor, purposely worded and yet also hopeful in its wish that Diana’s legacy would continue to burn bright, particularly through William and Harry.

He had been living in South Africa when Diana died, and he—along with many others—had felt that his sister had been hung out to dry with the media in the wake of her separation and eventual divorce from Prince Charles, who along with then-girlfriend Camilla Parker-Bowles had been painted as villains in the Princess of Wales’ fall from royal grace. Earl Spencer was also understandably livid at the press, who had dissected Diana every which way and hounded her literally right up until the tragic end.

“She would want us today to pledge ourselves to protecting her beloved boys William and Harry from a similar fate and I do this here, Diana, on your behalf,” Earl Spencer said at Diana’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Sept. 6, 1997. “We will not allow them to suffer the anguish that used regularly to drive you to tearful despair.

“And beyond that, on behalf of your mother and sisters, I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative and loving way in which you were steering these two exceptional young men, so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly as you planned. 

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As her marriage to Charles started to unravel in the late ’80s, Diana didn’t feel she could confide in Jane because of her husband’s closeness to the queen, and Sarah and her mother had proved too loose-lipped around the press to trust them with her marital concerns. (Sarah, who had dated Prince Charles before Diana did, was persona non grata to him and the queen for awhile after spilling way too many beans to a couple of reporters in 1978.)

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