Prince Harry was only 12 when he lost his mother.

Princess Diana’s death was, of course, one of the defining moments of the 20th century, as her charismatic personality had quickly endeared her to a worldwide audience. She died at the age of 36, leaving Britain devastated.

image
Vogue

Now 32, Prince Harry of Wales is finally speaking out about his mother’s untimely death.

image
Reuters (via Business Insider)

Harry recently gave Newsweek an extensive, personal interview, discussing Diana, the current state of the British monarchy, and perhaps most interestingly, why he doesn’t want to be king.

To understand Harry’s views, however, it’s helpful to understand how he struggled with the loss of his mother.

As Harry told Newsweek, intense media coverage created an unusual obstacle. Harry hadn’t fully come to terms with the loss until he was close to a breakdown at age 28. He reached out to his family and friends for support, which allowed him to gradually move forward.

image
Getty Images (via Closer Weekly)

“My mother died when I was very young. I didn’t want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good,” he said. “I am now fired up and energized and love charity stuff, meeting people and making them laugh.”

image
Chris Jackson/Getty Images (via NY Daily News)

“I sometimes still feel I am living in a goldfish bowl, but I now manage it better. I still have a naughty streak too, which I enjoy and is how I relate to those individuals who have got themselves into trouble.”

image
Chris Jackson/Getty Images (via NY Daily News)

In many ways, Harry’s following in his mother’s footsteps, taking some of the majesty out of the monarchy and embracing his role as a public servant.

image
Chris Jackson/Getty Images (via NY Daily News)

“We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy,” Harry said. “We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people…. Is there any one of the Royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”

image
Closer Weekly

Prince Harry is technically in line for kingship.

When Queen Elizabeth II passes away or abdicates her throne, Prince Charles will likely become the King. Charles is 68 years old, however, and some have speculated that he might abdicate after a short reign or perhaps pass on the opportunity altogether.

image
Royal Mail/Getty (via Newsweek)

Should Charles refuse, Prince William, Harry’s older brother, would gain the title. As William has two children, they would technically be third (Prince George) and fourth (Princess Charlotte) in line for the throne.

image
HRH Duchess of Cambridge / PA (via Today)

Under the Succession to the Crown Act, princes no longer take precedence in the lines of succession. Prince Harry is currently fifth in line.

As such, Harry probably won’t have an opportunity to become king.

But like other members of the Royal family, Prince Harry believes in the importance of the monarchy. He sees the institution as a non-partisan link between the people and their government—a personification of Britain itself. With that said, he also believes that royalty shouldn’t act too…well, royal.

image
Julian Parker/Getty (via Cosmopolitan)

“My mother took a huge part in showing me an ordinary life, including taking me and my brother to see homeless people,” he said. “Thank goodness I’m not completely cut off from reality. People would be amazed by the ordinary life William and I live. I do my own shopping. Sometimes, when I come away from the meat counter in my local supermarket, I worry someone will snap me with their phone. But I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too. Even if I was king, I would do my own shopping.”

image
Samir Hussein/WireImage (via Vanity Fair)

Harry and William have committed their lives to promoting British ideals of charity, empathy, and equality.

In recent years, Harry has been an especially visible arm of the Royal family. He’s taken up one of his mother’s favorite causes by helming the HALO Trust, which aims to rid the world of landmines.

image
Handout Photo By The HALO Trust/Getty Images (Vancouver Sun)

He took an HIV test in Barbados as part of a photo opportunity to promote HIV screenings in the Caribbean country. With William and Kate, he launched the Royal Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports efforts towards conservation and community service.

image
The Ginger Net

“The monarchy is a force for good,” Harry told Newsweek, “and we want to carry on the positive atmosphere that the queen has achieved for over 60 years, but we won’t be trying to fill her boots.”

Some political movements in Britain want to get rid of the monarchy entirely.

Republic, a U.K. grassroots movement with more than 5,000 members, sees the monarchy as an outdated institution that reinforces Britain’s strict class system. The organization has called for a referendum on the monarchy after the current queen passes away.

image
Closer Weekly

“It will be the first time most people have seen a change in the head of state,” said Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic. “I think that’s going to be a slightly odd, jarring experience for a lot of people. All of a sudden you’ve got this this other monarch who has been hoisted upon us and no debate about who it is going to be.”

image
national.suntimes.com

“For once, actually seeing hereditary power in practice—you’ll actually see the inheritance of the throne taking place.”

image
People

However, the monarchy currently enjoys overwhelming support from the British public, thanks in no small part to the charitable efforts of William and Harry. While the princes may not want to be king, they’ve made it clear that they’ll fulfill their roles when the time comes. Barring a major change, the institution seems likely to survive—even if it does change with the times.