Diana was known to be exceptionally close to both her sons, particularly when her marriage to Prince Charles came under strain. William was one of her closest confidants even though he was only a teenager when his parents split up. The Princess of Wales was always conscious of how William would live his life in the spotlight as second-in-line to the throne and, after struggling to deal with being in the public eye herself, hoped he would be able to cope with the scrutiny.
According to journalist Christopher Andersen, Diana hoped he would become like the late President John F. Kennedy’s son, John Kennedy Jr, who also grew up under the public gaze.
He was pushed into the spotlight when he was just a toddler, after his father’s tragic assassination in 1963, and went on to gain celebrity status
Writing in Vanity Fair in 2003, Mr Andersen explained: “Like his closest counterpart America, the late John Kennedy Jr., Hollywood-handsome William often seems to resemble a flawless actor who might be chosen to property him on-screen than the genuine article.”
Diana even nicknamed her son DDG – Drop Dead Gorgeous – in his youth.
She told a friend: “I want William to be to handle things as well as John does.”
However, Mr Andersen added: “Kennedy himself thought that both William and Harry faced more daunting problems than the ones he confronted.”
Mr Kennedy later said: “I was really able to lead a normal life from about the age of five.
“I went to boarding school and then to college.
“[Harry and William] will have to constantly deal with [the media] starting now.”
Mr Kennedy was able to have a career and control his public image more than William, because – as one of the Queen’s heirs, his life is committed to public duty and he is constantly being trained to one day become the monarch.
Mr Kennedy went on to date models such as Cindy Crawford and the actor Sarah Jessica Parker, who said she did not understand “real fame” until she dated the late President’s son.
He died in a plane crash in 1999.
Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris in 1997 – William was 15, while his brother Prince Harry was 12.
The two boys pulled at the public’s heartstrings when their grandfather Prince Philip asked them to walk behind their mother’s coffin during her funeral, in front of thousands of mourning fans.
In 2017, the Duke of Cambridge spoke to the BBC for the documentary ‘Diana, 7 Days’ and described the experience.
He said: “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, that walk.
“It felt like she was almost walking alongside us.”
As Mr Andersen pointed out, since Diana’s death William has been “heir to the myth and mystique” of his mother too, much like Mr Kennedy.
The Vanity Fair article recalled how a leading member of Britain’s Conservative Party once said: “Do you honestly think people would care half as much about William if he was the image of his father instead of his mother? Do you?”