The Prince says in an interview with The Telegraph that he “shut down all his emotions” for almost two decades after losing his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, despite his brother, Prince William, trying to persuade him to seek help.
“I can safely say that losing my mom 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.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 16, 2017
As a coping strategy, he advises taking up a hobby or sport, instead of trying to take things out of your life. He said that boxing “really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone.”
“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?” he said.
“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.’
He added: “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 is coming to you from every angle.”
The interview is part of the publicity for Heads Together, the charity the prince has set up along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to promote positive mental wellbeing. Heads Together is the charity of the year for the London Marathon on April 23.
Prince Harry, who spent 10 years in the British armed forces and served two tours in Afghanistan, said in the interview that his struggles had consumed much of his 20s. (He was 27 in 2012, when tabloids published images of him naked while partying in Las Vegas, which prompted him to apologize for having “let my family down).
This year, Prince Harry and Prince William announced that they had commissioned a statue at Kensington Palace of their mother to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her death.