In a surprisingly candid interview, Britain’s Prince Harry has revealed his struggles in the wake of Princess Diana’s death in 1997.
The 32-year-old prince told The Telegraph that his way of dealing with his mother’s sudden death in a car accident in Paris was to simply shut down his emotions.
“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,” said Harry.
He added: “My way of dealing with it 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.”
By the time he was in his 20s, Harry said he felt like he was going to explode.
“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.
Harry spoke about his experiences as part of The Telegraph’s series of “Mad World” podcasts about how people grapple with mental health issues. The prince participated in order to battle the stigma surrounding opening up about personal problems and to encourage people to get help.
Harry and his brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have also set up the charity Heads Together to promote mental health.
Harry gained a reputation known as the wild brother, particularly after photos of his nude hijinks in a Las Vegas hotel room came to light in 2012. But now he’s involved in numerous charitable projects such as supporting the Invictus Games for wounded warriors, working to eliminate hidden land mines, encouraging HIV testing and helping to save elephants in Africa.
As for his emotional struggles, including two years of “total chaos,” Harry said he finally sought counseling at the age of 28 and started opening up about his feelings. He also said boxing lessons helped after he came very close to “punching someone.” Now, he’s in a “good place.”
Harry encouraged others to learn from his struggles.
“The experience I have had is that once you start talking about it, you realize that actually you’re part of quite a big club,” he said.
Click here to listen to the podcast.