Royal Rebel with a Cause: Prince Harry Opens Up About His Mum

In a very candid interview for a mental health podcast, Prince Harry gets real about losing Diana and learning to handle grief

Prince Harry on Mental Health: Princess Diana with Prince Harry and Prince William in Austria

(Photo: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

With his party-boy ways and questionable Halloween costume choices, Prince Harry hasn’t always set the best example. But after his recent interview with The Telegraph, this prince charmed any remaining skeptics as he candidly revealed his struggle with grief.

When Diana died on in 1997, the British people lost their princess. But for Prince Harry, that was the moment he lost his mum.

“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 during a 30-minute interview for The Telegraph‘s mental health podcast “Mad World,” hosted by Bryony Gordon.

Because Harry felt that thinking about his mum would only make him sad and could never bring her back, he says he opted instead to stick his head in the sand. And the grief he kept bottled up for more two decades resulted in anger and anxiety.

“During those years I took up boxing, because everyone was saying boxing is good for you and it’s a really good way of letting out aggression,” he told Gordon. “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.”

Prince Harry’s interview reveals intimate details of what happens after you lose someone you love, and how that sense of loss never disappears. Prince William, who was 15 when Princess Diana died, told his brother that what he was feeling was normal, but his behaviour was not and encouraged his to see a therapist. And a few years ago, Harry finally did.

“I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great,’ or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it,” said Harry, who is now 32. “And then [I] started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the 
forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.”

Cue headlines around the world about Prince Harry and the fact that he sought counselling to deal with the loss of his mother—a topic that is rarely discussed so openly by the Royals.

This isn’t the first time he’s spoken frankly about issues close to his heart. After his romance with actress Meghan Markle sparked a media frenzy, Harry released a letter, on Kensington Palace letterhead, defending his girlfriend from some of the racist and sexist remarks that people had made.

That letter was considered an “unprecedented” move for a family that typically opts for a stiff upper lip rather than a scathing response. But like his interview with The Telegraph, Prince Harry’s more candid moments benefit us all.

“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,” he told The Telegraph. “Not just for you, but everybody else around you as well, because you become a problem. I, through a lot of my twenties, was a problem and I didn’t know how to deal with it.”

His message about mental health, and the importance about normalizing conversations around how we’re really doing is also at the heart of his Heads Together charity. Together with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—a.k.a. Will and Kate—Harry is working to help end the stigma around mental health. His recent interview only adds to evidence that he is willing to put his words into action.

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