Princess Diana called her close friend and royal reporter Richard Kay to tell him that she was all set "to explore a different kind of royalty."
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 16, 2022. It has since been updated.
In the early hours of 31 August 1997, Princess Diana met with a car crash, one that claimed her life. Her death left the world reeling in shock. Just hours before her death, in what was recorded as her last phone call, she spoke to Richard Kay, a longtime royal reporter and friend. Her words revealed how excited she was to start a new life, one where she spent more time with her sons and continued making a difference to the world by redefining royalty, reports PEOPLE. Kay is opening up about Diana's final call in a new documentary titled Diana, which is airing Thursday night in the UK.
"I spoke to her that night," he recalled. "The police said that the last call she made was to me," said Kay. The mother of Prince William and Prince Harry—15 and 12 at the time—had divorced Prince Charles a year before in 1996, and was "in quite a good place," but "she wanted to come back and see her boys."
Kay then added that the call revealed his friend was quite excited to embark on a new journey in her life. "She was desperate to try and make a fresh start and do something different," he recalled. "To explore a different kind of royalty."
During a documentary called Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, Harry recalled the last phone call he had with his mother. The brothers were only able to speak to her briefly before her death, when she had called during the boys' stay at the Royal Family’s Balmoral estate in Scotland, reveals Express UK.
The young lads were busy playing, so they had a very rushed conversation with their mother, not knowing that it would be the very last time they could talk to her. "The very last memory that I have is a phone call [at] Balmoral. At the time Harry and I were running around minding our own business, playing with our cousins, and having a very good time. I think Harry and I were just in a desperate rush to say goodbye. You know, see you later and we’re going to go off," said the older brother.
The Duke of Cambridge wished he knew that he wouldn't be able to speak to her ever again. "If I’d known now obviously what was going to happen, I wouldn’t have been so blasé about it. That phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily," he said. After he was done, he handed the phone over to Harry, who doesn't really "remember what I said, but all I do remember is regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was."
Diana, who never stuck to the rules when it came to being a mother to her sons, always put her kids first. She was planning on going back and spending more time with her sons, but fate had other plans for them. "If I’d known that that was the last time... the things I would have said to her," Harry said. "There’s not a day that William and I don’t wish that she was still around," he said. "We wonder what kind of a mother she would be now, and what kind of a public role she would have, and what a difference she would be making."
On the night of the accident, Diana was accompanied by her driver Henri Paul, her bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, and her boyfriend Emad "Dodi" Fayed. Moments before the crash, the car was surrounded by paparazzi, who just wanted to take a picture of the princess. Per Oprah Daily, Harry spoke about how helpless he felt when he saw his mom being followed by the paps, in the Apple TV+ documentary The Me You Can't See.
"When I think about my mom, the first thing that comes to mind is always the same one over and over again: Strapped in the car, seatbelt across, with my brother in the car as well, and my mother driving being chased by three, four, five mopeds, with paparazzi on, and then she was always unable to drive because of the tears. There was no protection. One of the feelings that comes up with me always is the helplessness. Being a guy, but being too young to be able to help a woman—in this case, your mother. And that happened every single day. Every single day until the day that she died."
Cover Image Source: (L)Photo by Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images / (R) Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images