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Princes William and Harry defend Queen Elizabeth, shame paparazzi in 'Diana, 7 Days' doc

In the latest project marking the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death, her sons, Princes William and Harry, are opening up about the turbulent week following the tragedy. 

In a new documentary, they praised their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, for shielding them from the public, revealed that their father broke the news to them and delivered some harsh words about the paparazzi.

Filmmaker Henry Singer's BBC One documentary, "Diana, 7 Days," chronicles Diana's fatal car crash on Aug. 31, 1997, and the whirlwind week leading up to her Westminster Abbey funeral. William was 15 and Harry was 12 at the time.

I think it was a very hard decision for my grandmother to make. She felt very torn between being a grandmother to William and Harry and her Queen role.

Prince William on Queen Elizabeth II's reaction to Princess Diana's death

The public outpouring of grief surrounding Diana's death thrust the British monarchy into a harsh public debate over its aloof treatment of the former member of the royal family. The palace's attempt to conceal its reactions and handling of the news made the public increasingly hostile toward the institution. The princes touch on those topics in the documentary.

"I think it was a very hard decision for my grandmother to make. She felt very torn between being a grandmother to William and Harry and her Queen role," William said (via the Guardian) of the queen's decision to sequester the family at their Balmoral estate in Scotland immediately after Diana's death.

"At the time, you know, my grandmother wanted to protect her two grandsons, and my father as well. Our grandmother deliberately removed the newspapers, and things like that, so there was nothing in the house at all. So we didn’t know what was going on," he added.

William, second in line to the British throne, and Harry also spoke of how Diana's death affected their father, Prince Charles, whose crumbling marriage, affair and public divorce made him and Diana regular tabloid fodder. Harry seemed to confirm that it was Charles who broke the news of their mother's death to them.

"One of the hardest things for a parent to have to do is tell your children that your other parent has died. How you deal with that, I don't know," Harry said (via the Daily Mail). "But he was there for us. He was the one out of two left. And he tried to do his best and to make sure that we were protected and looked after. But he was going through the same grieving process as well."

The paparazzi was a sore subject for Harry too, who said it's been difficult to come to terms with the fact that the photographers who chased his mother's car into the Paris tunnel where she died were the same people who witnessed her death. 

"She had quite a severe head injury but was still very much alive on the backseat, and those people that caused the accident instead of helping were taking photographs of her dying. And then those photographs made their way back to news desks in this country," Harry said.

Separately, William likened the paparazzi hounding his mother daily to a "pack of dogs." However, he said he wouldn't let the traumatic event let his mother's legacy "go to waste."

"I wouldn't let it break me, I wanted it to make me," he said. "I wanted her to be proud of the person I would become."

"Diana, 7 Days" airs on the BBC Sunday and on NBC on Sept. 1. It features additional commentary from some of the major players of the time, including the princes, other members of Diana's family and her friends, royal aides and politicians, namely former prime minister Tony Blair, who urged the palace to appease the public outcry by urging the queen to make a statement.

ALSO:

From royal to reality: How Princess Diana changed female celebrity and paved the way for Kim Kardashian

The fashion legacy of Princess Diana is the subject of an exhibit in London

FX renews 'Feud' for a second season that will spotlight Prince Charles and Princess Diana

Review: 'Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy' offers no digging or analysis, but is moving all the same

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