It’s been over 20 years since Princess Diana was killed in a tragic car crash. And now, her son Prince Harry is opening up about the two decades he spent trying not to think about her death—and all the negative effects that in turn had on his life.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Prince Harry says he “shut down all his emotions” for almost two decades after losing Diana. Though his brother, Prince William, tried to get him to seek help, he refused until quite recently.
“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 also my work as well,” Prince Harry told The Telegraph in a podcast interview released on April 16.
According to the interview, Prince Harry says seeking help from a mental health professional helped him get a handle on the grieving process. This decision came after suffering through extreme anxiety during royal engagements and feeling “on the verge of punching someone.”
Prince Harry said he finally sought help at age 28 after two years of “total chaos,” and with the support of his brother, who told him that it wasn’t normal to “think that nothing has affected you.”
“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand,” Prince Harry said in the interview. “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.”
It was the pressure of the public eye that caused him to be “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.” As a teen, Harry struggled with negative press attention for his rowdy behavior, using marijuana and drinking heavily.
Today, however, he’s back on track (and currently dating the gorgeous actress Meghan Markle from “Suits”). This interview was part of a promotion for the prince’s mental health charity Heads Together.
Prince Harry hopes he can encourage other people to be open about their personal feelings and struggles, instead of pushing everything away.
“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.
For those out there who are suffering in silence, it can help to know that even a high-profile figure like Prince Harry has suffered, too, and that realizing he didn’t need to do so alone was a powerful step towards healing.
“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 said.