Arrow-right Camera

Diana’s Will Survives In Future King What He Knows About The Common Man, William Learned From His Mother

Look into his face and see her.

The sad shy doe-like eyes, the silky blond hair, the seeming self-effacement that can suddenly turn stubborn, indicating an iron strength under a soft exterior.

He is William Arthur Philip Windsor, and sometime in the next century, if all goes well, he will be king of England.

Now, he is a 15-year-old adolescent trying to bear up under the awful burden of having lost his beautiful and beloved mother in a horrendous car crash.

Prince William is said to be a serious and withdrawn boy who hates the idea of being in the public eye. But he may have little choice.

More than 6 feet tall and handsome - not to mention rich - the young royal is said already to be attracting the attention of young ladies at parties and discos he has attended, all duly reported in the press, of course.

William had insisted against the wishes of his father, Prince Charles, that he walk behind his mother’s coffin to Westminster Abbey, displaying the streak of stubborn independence he inherited from his mother and which may mark his adulthood.

It is said that Charles was worried that his elder son might not be able to handle the exposure, but William was “adamant.”

There is no question that both William and Harry, 12, will miss their mother, who was not hesitant to show her love for them with frequent hugs and kisses, who took them out of the castle and into the world, allowing them to frolic at Disneyworld, eat hamburgers, go whitewater rafting, play tennis and attend the movies.

With her, they dressed informally in baseball caps, jeans and sneakers.

By contrast, whenever they were seen with their father hunting and fishing in Balmoral, they were dressed in tweeds, and, at more formal occasions, in suits.

The fiercest battles during Diana’s separation and divorce from Prince Charles were over time with her sons.

“It’s well known that Diana and the boys were very, very close,” says London psychiatrist Dennis Friedman. “She adored them and they adored her.”

Friedman is the author of “Inheritance: A Psychological History of the Royal Family.” Diana’s death, he says, makes the boys psychological orphans. They’ve lost their mother, and have never truly had a loving relationship with their father.

Charles may care for his sons, says Friedman, but “he has always been a very distant father, as all members of the House of Windsor have been for generations.”

Diana’s legacy as a mother began with her insistence on raising the royal babies like other well-off British children of their generation.

There was national rejoicing when William Arthur Philip Louis was born June 21, 1982. England had a glamorous young royal couple and a new heir to the throne. Diana signaled her intentions to be a modern mother when she insisted on bringing her 9-month-old son on an official tour of Australia. William was the first royal baby ever to travel on a major trip with his parents.

Two years later, Henry Charles Albert David was born on Sept. 15, 1984.

Diana always insisted on a normal life for her sons, to whatever degree that was possible. Instead of tutors inside the palace walls, both boys attended nursery and elementary schools in London before they left for boarding school at age 8 - over her objections.

She was criticized for introducing the boys to AIDS patients and the homeless.

“I want them to have an understanding of people’s emotions, of people’s insecurities, of people’s distress, of their hopes and dreams,” she answered.

More than anything, she wanted William to be a modern and compassionate king.

His father called William “Willie Wombat,” not considered an appropriate nickname for a bright, energetic youngster since the name conjures up a rather slothful bear-like creature.

His mother once said he is a typical Gemini - sensitive, sometimes anxious and emotional.

William seems to be happiest tramping around the hills of Balmoral with his gun and his dog. He hates to be photographed.

But he is said to enjoy an occasional beer, loud music and designer clothes. He also enjoys driving around the private roads of Balmoral in the fastest vehicle he can find.

No one can guess what impact the public attention riveted on Princess Diana had on her sons over the years.

There was her televised admission that she had been unfaithful to their father, her divorce from Charles, and the endless photographs of her in various stages of undress on beaches and yachts of male friends, most recently the man who died with her in the crash, millionaire Dodi Fayed.

William was said to be painfully aware of Diana’s unhappiness in her marriage. When his sobbing mother would lock herself in the bathroom, he would push tissues under the door.

He has been supportive of his younger brother, Harry, who has been described as being happy-go-lucky, through the trials and tribulations.

Harry has evolved into the fun-loving, sporty prince. His grades have been less than spectacular, and his parents had decided their younger son would repeat his final year at Ludgrove to hone his academic skills and allow him to mature.

Diana consulted the serious William before she agreed to drop the title of “her royal highness” as part of the divorce settlement, and it was he who suggested the charity sale of her dresses.

Diana once said that both William and Harry suggested that she leave England for a happier life in another country.

Suddenly, all plans for the princes are on hold. Neither boy will want for the advantages of life. The British press is reporting that most of Diana’s $64 million fortune will be left to Harry because William will automatically inherit his father’s vast estates and income.

When in London, the boys had lived with Diana at Kensington Palace. Prince Charles’ small palace apartments in the city would need to be refitted to accommodate two teenagers.

After the funeral, William will retreat to Eton, a place which he has found to be a refuge, thanks to an agreement by the press to leave him alone there.

But eyes will be on him anyway, and people will continue to wonder whether he’s really his mother’s spiritual heir.

One friend believes he will be.

Richard Branson, an airline executive and longtime friend of the princess, said, “The most wonderful thing is that Prince William has all of the best attributes of Diana, and she will live on through him.”