Prince Harry on Dealing With Princess Diana’s Death: ’There Was a Lot of Buried Emotion’

Diana, Princess of Wales with Prince Harry on holiday in Majorca, Spain on August 10, 1987.  Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

Prince Harry opened up about the death of his mother, Princess Diana, and explained that he repressed his feelings after the fatal Paris car accident in 1997.

In a new ITV documentary, Prince Harry in Africa, the 32-year-old royal said that it was an extremely difficult thing to cope with at just 12 years old. “I’d never really dealt with what had actually happened, so there was a lot of buried emotion and, for a huge part of my life, I just didn’t even want to think about it,” he said.

The film, which aired on Monday, December 19, follows Harry’s work with Sentebale, the charity he cofounded in Lesotho with the country’s Prince Seeiso in 2006. Harry created the foundation in his mother’s honor to help children and orphans living with HIV and AIDS. The organization, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, is helping him carry on the “unfinished work my mother never completed,” Harry said of Diana, who worked tirelessly to fight the stigma of AIDS in the ’80s and ’90s.

Prince Harry visits the Victoria Park Botanical Gardens on the third day of an official visit on November 22, 2016 in Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda. Samir Hussein/WireImage

Harry’s passion for Sentebale helped him work through personal issues and his mother’s untimely death at age 36. “I now view life differently from what it used to be. I used to bury my head in the sand, and let everything around you tear you to pieces,” he said. “I was fighting the system, going, ‘I don’t want to be this person.' My mother died when I was very, very young and I don’t want to be in the position. Now I’m so energized, fired up, to be lucky enough to be in a position to make a difference.”

Earlier this year, Harry, who is now dating Suits actress Meghan Markle, admitted that he didn’t talk about the pain he felt after Diana’s passing for almost two decades. “I really regret not talking ever about it,” he said at an event for the mental health charity Heads Together in July. “For the first 28 years of my life, I never talked about it.” 

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