After Burying The Pain Of Diana’s Death For 20 Years, Harry Has Admitted The Heartwrenching Truth

The loss of a parent is an incredibly difficult thing, and having to grieve in the glare of the public eye is almost unfathomable. But this is what happened to Prince Harry after the death of his mother, Princess Diana. And for years, the young royal kept quiet about the aftermath of the event. But now, at long last, Harry is talking – and he’s explained why it took him so long to open up, too.

Princess Diana was fashionable, kind, and good-looking – but she was also deeply unhappy. Almost from the very beginning, her marriage to Prince Charles was a disaster. And when he embarked on an affair with the woman he truly loved, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Diana was expected to look the other way.

There was one bright spot in Diana’s miserable marriage, however: her children. In June 1982 the Princess gave birth to Prince William, heir to the throne. And then, in September 1984, along came Prince Harry. The two boys would never be free of British royal protocols, but Diana was determined to give them as normal a childhood as possible.

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And despite the stormy relationship between Charles and Diana and their eventual high-profile divorce, the princes by all accounts enjoyed a very loving childhood. Diana refused to let her boys be raised by royal nannies, and so she would try to arrange her own schedule around their school activities.

It’s fair to say that pre-Diana, the royal family had not known been known for their parenting skills. In fact, from around the time of Queen Victoria, the monarchs of Britain had more often than not neglected their young children and seen them as heirs and little else. However Diana, with her warm approach to her sons, changed all that.

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But the childhood of Princes William and Harry came to an abrupt end on August 31, 1997. On that day, Diana got into her car in order to elude the paparazzi waiting for her outside the Ritz Hotel in Paris. But unfortunately, she never got out of that car alive. Her chauffeur was drunk, and she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. And so when the car crashed at high speed in a tunnel, the Princess didn’t stand a chance.

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Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, and the chauffeur Henri Paul all died after their car spun into a pillar in the Pont de l’Alma underpass. Only Diana’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived. Paramedics attempted to save Diana, but there was little that could be done to help her. She passed away two hours after reaching the hospital.

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When the news reached the two young princes, their lives were changed forever. At the time William was 15 years old, while Harry was just 12. The two boys were now faced with the awful prospect of having to mourn their mother while still presenting a stoic, regal face to the world.

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In the chaotic, awful months that followed, Harry and William were given little chance to say what they really thought. And even after the initial furore had died down, the whole world watched them grieve.

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William and Harry grew into adulthood with the press reporting on their every move. What’s more, they no longer had a mother to protect them from the worst aspects of public life. And while William was the model of princehood, Harry proved more difficult. Throughout his teenage years, and despite his frequent charity work, he became primarily known for his boisterous behavior.

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Harry was, for a while, something of a troubled young man. He joined the army, as many royals before him had done, and was deployed to Afghanistan. But he was dogged by controversy wherever he went. Moreover, his occasionally lewd or inappropriate behavior earned him the media nickname of “the party prince.”

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Harry did, however, occasionally shed light on his feelings towards his mother’s death. In interviews, for example, he would allude to how badly he missed Diana. Through his charity work, too, he no doubt hoped he was making her proud in his attempts to continue her humanitarian legacy. But it wasn’t until 2017 that the true depths of what he’d been through came to light.

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Speaking to The Telegraph in April 2017, Harry revealed that his grief had seriously impacted his mental health growing up. For example, as part of the young Royals’ new campaign, Heads Together, he has very publicly explained that being unable to discuss his emotions led to social anxiety.

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“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum,” he told The Telegraph. “I was like ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.” It had been so bad, he explained, that he had even been close to a breakdown at one point. But Prince William encouraged him to seek professional help, and with therapy he was able to sort through his problems.

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Sport also helped Harry through his darkest moments. “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.”

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The concept of the stiff upper lip – a staple of the royal family, if not of British society itself – had a very bad effect indeed on Harry. But the prince has become very keen indeed to defeat his demons. And not only that, but he’s also determined to help others overcome their mental health problems too. He told The Telegraph he wants to, “normalise the conversation” about mental health issues and eradicate the stigma surrounding them.

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And indeed Harry’s struggles will be familiar to a very large amount of people, from all different walks of life. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, one in four of us will face the consequences of a mental health disorder at some point in our lives. And of those people, only around one-third will actually seek help from a doctor or therapist.

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Unfortunately, a huge amount of stigma still surrounds mental health issues today, especially amongst men. In fact, men are even less likely than women to simply talk to someone when they need help. Furthermore, suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the U.K. But both Harry and his brother William – who has encountered suicide victims in the course of his work as an ambulance pilot – are determined to change that.

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Harry also told The Telegraph that he has worked hard to reach the stage where he can speak openly to the media and the world about his struggles. And he said he had “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.”

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Since he went public, the Prince has been highly commended for sharing his story with the world. The mental health charity Mind described his decision to come forward as “a true turning point.” Many in the media, meanwhile, have commented on his bravery and openness. And there’s not a shred of doubt his mother would be very proud of him, too.

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