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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

William, Harry remember their final call with Princess Diana

The brevity of that 1997 call troubles Prince William and Prince Harry to this day — for their mother, Princess Diana, would die in a car crash that night

In this photo from the personal album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, shows the princess holding Prince William whilst pregnant with Prince Harry. Kensington Palace via AP
In this photo from the personal album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, shows the princess holding Prince William whilst pregnant with Prince Harry. Kensington Palace via AP

It was a typical phone call between two boys playing and their mother, who was on vacation in France. It was brief — the boys wanted to get back to playing with their cousins, not spend time on the phone chatting.

The brevity of that 1997 call troubles Prince William and Prince Harry to this day — for their mother, Princess Diana, would die in a car crash that night.

"Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye, you know 'see you later' … If I'd known now obviously what was going to happen I wouldn't have been so blase about it and everything else," Prince William says in a new documentary. "But that phone call sticks in my mind, quite heavily."

Prince Harry tells the filmmakers the final chat is something he will regret until the end of his days.

"Looking back on it now, it's incredibly hard. I'll have to sort of deal with that for the rest of my life," Prince Harry said. "Not knowing that was the last time I was going to speak to my mum. How differently that conversation would have panned out if I'd had even the slightest inkling her life was going to be taken that night."

The ITV documentary "Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy" is airing Monday on British TV. Excerpts from the film, and new family photographs, were released on Sunday.

The show is one of a series of tributes to Princess Diana expected as the 20th anniversary of her death on August 31, 1997, approaches.

It is only in the last year that princes William and Harry have spoken openly in public about their feelings about the sudden loss of their mother. Prince William — second-in-line for the British throne after his father Prince Charles — was only 15 at the time. Prince Harry was only 12.

The documentary chronicles Princess Diana's charitable works, including her historic outreach to AIDS victims and her campaign to ban landmines.

Princes William and Harry also stress their mother's fun-loving side, which they say the public generally did not see.

"Our mother was a total kid through and through. When everybody says to me 'so she was fun, give us an example,' all I can hear is her laugh in my head," says Prince Harry.

Prince William tells a story that reveals the privileged life they led as children — one day, Princess Diana surprised him by having three of the world's top models waiting for him when he got home from school.

"She organised when I came home from school to have Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell waiting at the top of the stairs. I was probably a 12 or 13-year-old boy who had posters of them on his wall," Prince William said. "I went bright red and didn't know quite what to say. And sort of fumbled and I think pretty much fell down the stairs on the way up."

William says he frequently tells his children — Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2 — about Princess Diana so she can be a presence in her grandchildren's lives.

"She'd be a lovely grandmother. She'd absolutely love it, she'd love the children to bits," he said.