Katie Couric has revealed the heartbreaking conversation she had with Princess Diana just a year before died, recalling how the lonely royal admitted she was ‘going home to an empty house’ amid her divorce from Prince Charles.
In an essay published by InStyle on August 30, just one day before the 22nd anniversary of the late royal’s death, the 62-year-old journalist explained she first met the People’s Princess at a luncheon honoring her in Chicago in June 1996.
‘I was nervous to meet Princess Diana and was seated two seats away from her at lunch. We chatted and she told me she liked my pink lipstick. Funny,’ she wrote of their casual conversation.
Memories: Katie Couric (left) wrote about meeting Princess Diana in Chicago in 1996 (right) in an essay that was published on Friday, one day before the 22 anniversary of the royal’s death
Heartbreaking: The journalist said she was chatting with Diana when she asked her if she was ‘excited to go home.’ Diana replied: ‘I would be, but I’m going home to an empty house’
‘Then I said something like, “You must be exhausted traveling and meeting so many people and having to shake hands with all these strangers. Are you excited to go home?”‘
According to Couric, the Princess of Wales replied: ‘I would be, but I’m going home to an empty house.’
‘I will never forget her response,’ the television host said. ‘This was as she was finalizing her divorce from Prince Charles, and she seemed a bit melancholy and lonely. My heart broke a little for her.’
She said she playfully suggested that Diana ‘invite some friends over and have a slumber party,’ prompting the royal to tilt her head and give her a quizzical look.
Looking back: The conversation took place just two months before her divorce from Prince Charles was finalized, and Couric recalled her seeming ‘a bit melancholy and lonely’
‘Perhaps that’s why the world fell in love with Diana — she let people see her insecurity and vulnerability,’ Couric wrote. ‘She seemed to wear both on her sleeve. Yes, she was a princess, but somehow, she was like all of us.’
Diana and Charles, now 70, wed at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in July 1981 and went on to have two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. They separated in 1992, and their divorce was finalized in August 1996, just two months after Couric met Diana in Chicago.
Couric said she was at her home in Millbrook, New York, when she first heard that Princess Diana was critically injured in a car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997.
It was already a stressful time for Couric, whose husband Jay Monahan was battling colon cancer. She recalled being ‘devastated’ when it was announced that Diana had died.
Loss: Couric said she was ‘devastated’ to learn Diana had died on August 31, 1997 after a car accident in Paris. She was among the journalists who traveled to London to cover her funeral
So sad: Couric said she still remembers what it was like to see Prince William and Prince Harry, who were only 15 and 12 at the time, walk behind their mother’s casket
The Today star was among the journalists who traveled to London to cover Diana’s funeral, and she still remembers what it was like to see William and Harry, who were only 15 and 12 at the time, walk behind their mother’s casket with their heads bowed.
‘Although I was reporting on what was going on, I too was mourning Princess Diana,’ she said, admitting the royal’s untimely death led her to imagine what would happen if her husband were to die of cancer and leave their two daughters without a parent.
‘At one point, the producers had to take the cameras off me, because I was so choked up and tears started to stream down my face,’ she said.
Nearly five months after Diana’s funeral, Couric’s husband died of colon cancer in January 1998 at the age of 42.
Another loss: Nearly five months after Diana’s funeral, Couric’s husband Jay Monahan (left) died of colon cancer, leaving their daughters Ellie and Carrie (right) without a father
Always missed: When interview Prince William in 2012, he told her it was ‘very difficult’ not having his mother at his wedding to Kate Middleton
The journalist sat down with Prince William and Prince Harry for an ABC News special in 2012, which took place 16 years after she first met their mother.
Couric, who watched her children grow up without their father, asked William about not having his mother at his wedding to Kate Middleton, which took place in April 2011.
‘It was very difficult,’ he told her. ‘I sort of prepared myself beforehand… I didn’t want any wobbling lips or anything going on.’
‘I felt really sad for him and sad about how much Diana had missed,’ Couric wrote. ‘But I also felt proud as a mother that he understood how painful it was not having her there, yet knew he had to soldier on.’