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Julia Samuel, a grief counsellor and founder of the charity Child Bereavement UK, of which Prince William is also a patron, was a close friend of Diana’s before her death. The 62-year-old opened up about her own grief after losing her friend 25 years ago in a new interview.
Julia said she struggled with how many people who did not know Diana publicly mourned her death.
Mrs Samuel expressed she “felt angry” after the Princess’s death but now finds comfort in being Prince George’s godmother.
Speaking to The Observer, Julia said: “Well, I feel lucky I was such a good friend of Princess Diana. And I really love my godson, George. And it’s a lovely way of loving her.”
She added: “I was angry that she died and shocked and I couldn’t really understand it all. I understand it better now.
Prince George’s godmother says their close bond is a ‘lovely way’ of honouring Diana
“I understand that people felt they really knew and loved her. But I still feel sad today.”
Speaking ahead of the release of her new book, Every Family Has a Story, which explores family and trauma, Mrs Samuel also spoke about how Prince William and Prince Harry campaign for better mental health awareness.
She praised the brothers for speaking about the topic, saying they did it “completely off their own bats.”
Julia said: “I think both the Princes have really turned the dial on talking about grief so honestly and also about mental health.
“But that was all theirs – completely off their own bats.”
Both William and Harry have encouraged the public to have important conversations about mental health.
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Princess Diana and Julia were close friends
In 2016, the brothers – alongside the Duchess of Cambridge – launched the ‘Heads Together’ campaign which unites eight mental health charities, including Mind to end the stigma around mental health.
Money raised by the scheme is used to support innovative projects to tackle the challenges we can all face in talking about our mental health.
More recently, William took part in Time to Walk, an audio series by Apple, which encourages people to walk for their mental health.
The royal said in a tweet that he was involved in the series “in the hope of inspiring a few other people to get active and take time for their own mental health”.
During the recording, listeners can hear the Duke talking about the importance of keeping mentally fit but also lighter topics, such as which song is favoured by his children while they get ready in the morning.
Prince Harry also recently discussed his need for a daily meditation ritual to battle burnout, as part of his efforts to prioritise his mental health.
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The Duke of Sussex made the comments during a virtual panel hosted by BetterUp, the personal coaching company based in California where he is chief impact officer.
Psychotherapist Julia has remained close to both Prince William and Prince Harry following the death of their mother in August 1997.
Julia and Diana became friends after meeting at a dinner in 1987, and the pair’s strong friendship has been well documented.
The two women enjoyed plenty of laughs together and were often spotted frequenting the social scene as Julia lived close to Kensington Palace.
During the early nineties, Julia was regularly seen by Princess Diana’s side on trips to the gym and the cinema.
The pair were so close, Julia asked Diana to be a godmother to her son Benjamin.
Prince Harry with Julia at the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana
Mrs Samuel is one of seven godparents to Prince George, and this is not the first time she’s spoken out about the eight-year-old heir to the throne.
On the How to Fail with Elizabeth Day podcast in 2020, Julia said: “He is amazing. He’s funny and feisty and cheeky and God she (Diana) would have loved him so much. That is heartbreaking for all of them.”
Julia also spoke of a family tradition that sees her buying “noisy” toys that are complex to assemble for George, a feat which they both find funny.
She said: “So I do to George what (Diana) did to us, which is give impossible toys which are really noisy, take a lot of making…that William then has to spend days putting together.
“And then put all the machinery together and it makes awful tooting noises and lights flashing and all of that. That makes me laugh and it makes George laugh.”