Prince Harry revealed some of the biggest trauma he experienced from his time serving in the British military actually stemmed from his past.
“My tour of Afghanistan in 2012 flying Apaches, somewhere after that there was an unraveling and the trigger to me was actually returning from Afghanistan, but the stuff that was coming up was from 1997, from the age of 12, losing my mum at such a young age,” the Duke of Sussex, 38, revealed in his new Netflix docuseries, Heart of Invictus, which started streaming on Wednesday, August 30.
Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, died in an August 1997 car crash after being chased by paparazzi in Paris. Harry went on to note that growing up, he was “never really aware” of how he suppressed his trauma from the loss because mental health was “never discussed” among the royal family.
“The biggest struggle for me was no one around me really could help. I didn’t have that support structure, that network or that expert advice to identify what was actually going on with me,” Harry explained. “Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you really consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the fetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously, and that’s what I really want to change.”
Harry was subsequently inspired to create the Invictus Games in 2014. The event sees wounded and sick soldiers and veterans from around the world come together to compete in a series of sporting events.
“I’ve always wanted the Invictus Games and the support that comes with that all year round to be a net to catch those individuals,” Harry said in the docuseries.
Heart of Invictus, which was created as a part of Harry and his wife Meghan Markle’s multi-year deal with Netflix, follows the stories of six 2022 Invictus Game competitors, as well as Harry’s journey working on the competition.
In the series, Harry — who shares son Prince Archie, 4, and daughter Princess Lilibet, 2, with Meghan, 42 — opened up about his time as a soldier. He underwent two tours of Afghanistan during his 10 years in the military, the first of which was cut short after news of his deployment was leaked in 2008.
“To suddenly be on the way home, I was angry,” he shared. “But it was important for everyone around me, their safety, to remove me.”
Harry continued: “My own experience in Afghanistan was really affected by that flight home. As we took off, the curtain in front of me blew open and all you could see was the air hospital. Three young British soldiers, all wrapped in plastic and their bodies in pieces. I saw what only people had talked about. That was the real trigger for, ‘I’m now seeing the real cost of war.’ Not just those individuals, but their families and what that would mean and how their lives would literally change forever.”
“Following His Majesty’s Accession, The King is pleased to announce further military appointments for working Members of the Royal Family,” Buckingham Palace said in an August 11 statement. “The new appointments will continue to reflect the close relationship between the Armed Forces and the Royal Family in His Majesty’s reign.”