Prince Harry’s new memoir, Spare, offers a heartbreaking glimpse into his grief over the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
In a new excerpt published by People, the Duke of Sussex recalls driving through the same tunnel in Paris where Diana got into a fatal car crash in 1997. At the time, Harry was 23 years old and attending the 2007 Rugby World Cup semifinal in Paris.
"The World Cup provided me with a driver, and on my first night in the City of Light I asked him if he knew the tunnel where my mother … I watched his eyes in the rearview, growing large. The tunnel is called Pont de l’Alma, I told him," the excerpt reads.
Harry writes that he requested the driver go through the tunnel at 65 miles per hour, "The exact speed Mummy’s car had supposedly been driving, according to police, at the time of the crash. Not 120 miles per hour, as the press originally reported."
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The Duke of Sussex then writes about driving past the hotel where Diana had spent some of her final moments with her then-boyfriend, Dodi Fayed.
"Off we went, weaving through traffic, cruising past the Ritz, where Mummy had her last meal, with her boyfriend, that August night," Harry writes.
"Then we came to the mouth of the tunnel. We zipped ahead, went over the lip at the tunnel’s entrance, the bump that supposedly sent Mummy’s Mercedes veering off course. But the lip was nothing. We barely felt it," he continues. "As the car entered the tunnel I leaned forward, watched the light change to a kind of water orange, watched the concrete pillars flicker past. I counted them, counted my heartbeats, and in a few seconds we emerged from the other side. I sat back. Quietly I said: Is that all of it? It’s … nothing. Just a straight tunnel. I’d always imagined the tunnel as some treacherous passageway, inherently dangerous, but it was just a short, simple, no-frills tunnel. No reason anyone should ever die inside it."
Princess DianaVINCENT ALMAVY//Getty Images
Harry writes that he requested the driver go through the tunnel one more time. Still, he shares, he felt unsettled by the closure he thought he was seeking.
"It had been a very bad idea. I’d had plenty of bad ideas in my twenty-three years, but this one was uniquely ill-conceived," he writes. "I’d told myself that I wanted closure, but I didn’t really. Deep down, I’d hoped to feel in that tunnel what I’d felt when JLP gave me the police files—disbelief. Doubt. Instead, that was the night all doubt fell away. She’s dead, I thought. My God, she’s really gone for good."
He adds, "I got the closure I was pretending to seek. I got it in spades. And now I’d never be able to get rid of it. I’d thought driving the tunnel would bring an end, or brief cessation, to the pain, the decade of unrelenting pain. Instead it brought on the start of Pain, Part Deux."
Spare will be officially released to the public on January 10.