Diana, who died in a Paris car crash when Harry was just 12, will never get to meet her grandson Archie – and a royal household source tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story that her absence means “there will be a gap from Harry’s point of view.”
“It’s very sad that poor Diana isn’t here to see her children getting married and now have babies. And it is so sad for him that she isn’t here too,” adds a close friend of Diana’s. “Life is so precarious.”
The new royal dad traveled to The Netherlands on Thursday — while wife Meghan Markle and their newborn son stayed home in Windsor — to launch the official countdown to the Invictus Games in The Hague next year. During a bike ride around the park, Harry, 34, opened up to Dennis van der Stroom, 31, a former soldier who hopes to compete for The Netherlands Invictus team.
“I told Harry about my mother and we talked about our shared experience of missing a mom,” van der Stroom said. “He said missing a mother is like missing some kind of security, how you need that as a son and it falls away when you lose your mother. He said he meets a lot of people in his work who have lost a mother, father, sister, brother or relatives and when he hears their story, as he heard my story, he said he doesn’t feel so alone.”
Even in the week since Archie’s birth, the new parents have found ways to pay tribute to Princess Diana. Meghan and Harry shared a sweet new photo on their Instagram account, showing their’s son’s feet being lovingly cradled by his mother. In the image, which was taken at their new Frogmore Cottage home in Windsor, Diana’s favorite flower, forget-me-nots, can be seen in the background.
Archie’s maternal grandmother, Meghan’s mom Doria Ragland, has been staying with the couple during their first days as parents. Doria appeared in a poignant photo that showed Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth meeting their new great-grandchild for the first time.
Having Doria for support through any first-time parenting nerves has been a big help for Meghan.
“Harry really gets on well with her too,” a source says. “Any new mom wants her own mom around at this time, so it’s great.”