Prince Harry sought therapy in his late twenties as he struggled to accept the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
Harry told The Telegraph that he “shut down all his emotions” for nearly two decades following her car accident, and that it was his brother, Prince William, who convinced him to seek help.
When he was 28, he realized it was time to seek help—as his life was “in total chaos,” and was “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.” Diana had died when he was just 12, and Harry says he tried to shove the thought of her away.
Harry was in conversation with Bryony Gordon for the first episode of her podcast, Mad World. In it, she speaks to guests about their mental health.
“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,” Harry said. “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.”
Had he been to see a “shrink” he was asked, to which he replied:
“I’ve done that a couple of times, more than a couple of times, but it’s great. 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? [I thought] 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.’ So I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it."
Here is Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry, at the piano in Kensington Palace.
Harry says he also turned to boxing, because he was on the verge of punching someone—all the time.
“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 said. “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.”
Harry said talking about his mom has finally started to heal him.
“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.
And through dedicating himself to charity, he’s learned to grow up.
“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.
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