Prince Harry opened up in a new interview about the grief and anxiety he struggled with after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, and revealed that he sought therapy to deal with the “total chaos” of his life in his late twenties.
The British royal, 32, talked candidly in an interview with The Telegraph for its Mad World podcast, admitting that he “shut down all his emotions” for almost two decades after losing his mother in 1997 at the age of 12, when she was killed in a car accident.
Harry revealed in the 30-minute interview that his way of dealing with his heartbreaking loss was “sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help? It’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side, I was like, ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.'”
“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 said, adding, “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.”
Harry — who together with his brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law, Duchess Kate, set up the mental health charity Heads Together — said that he had been to counseling “a couple of times, more than a couple of times, but it’s great.”
He said he also struggled with aggression and channeled that energy into boxing.
“That really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone,” he said in the interview that took place at his Kensington Palace apartment.
William also tried to help his sibling. “My brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me,” Harry said. “He kept saying, ‘This is not right, this is not normal. You need to talk to [someone] about stuff. It’s OK.”
Harry, who admitted that he was “a little nervous, a little tight in the chest” about the interview, said things began to unravel when he reached his late twenties, when he went through two years of “total chaos.”
He felt anxiety at royal engagements, grappling with a “flight or fight” reaction, but “I didn’t know how to deal with it.” He finally sought professional help three years ago.
Harry dismissed speculation that his issues may be related to his time serving in the military in Afghanistan, saying that he felt that coping with the death of his mother in the public eye had the greatest impact on him. But after opening up and talking through his troubles, the prince says he’s in “a good place” now.
“Because of the process I have been through over the past two and a half years, I’ve now been able to take my work seriously, been able to take my private life seriously as well, and been able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference and things that I think will make a difference to everybody else,” he said.
He also said that he’s learned so much from talking to wounded servicemen and women about their serious mental issues, adding, “I know there is huge merit in talking about your issues and the only thing about keeping it quiet is that it’s only ever going to make it worse.”
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