Prince Harry has opened up about how the death of his mother, Princess Diana, impacted his mental health. In a rare, candid interview, the 32-year-old royal revealed that he spent 20 years after his mother’s passing burying his emotions, and finally sought help after two years of “total chaos” in his late 20s.
“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he told The Telegraph in a podcast.
“My way with dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to think about my mom, because why would that help?” he explained. “So from an emotional side, I was like, ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.'”
“It was 20 years of not thinking about it and then two years of total chaos,” he said. “I couldn’t put my finger on it. I just didn’t know what was wrong with me.”
“I, through a lot of my 20s, was a problem, and I didn’t know how to deal with it,” Harry continued. He explained that he also experienced frustration, especially at social engagements where he had to remain composed.
“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle,” he said.
He turned to boxing to help deal with his aggression. “And that really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone, so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier.”
Aside from physical activity, Harry stressed how helpful it was to talk to someone about his feelings. He admitted he sought counseling only three years ago, and had no shame in seeing a shrink. “I’ve done that a couple times. More than a couple times,” he said. “But it’s great.”
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His older brother, Prince William, also urged him to get help. “My brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me,” he said. “He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s okay.”
Now, Harry is in a “good place.” He’s currently working on the Heads Together campaign along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which encourages people struggling with their mental health to talk to someone about it, rather than keep it all inside. It’s a project that lies close to home for the royal, especially since he’s experienced it firsthand.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. Prince Harry, Prince William and other members of the royal family will be paying special tribute to her throughout the year.
Prince Harry left encouraging words for anyone experiencing what he went through: “I can’t encourage people enough to just have that conversation because you will be surprised firstly, how much support you get and secondly, how many people literally are longing for you to come out.”
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From: Harper’s BAZAAR US