England’s Prince Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, says he suffered from an emotional shutdown for 20 years after his mother’s death, followed by turbulence and eventual healing through therapy.
In an interview with “Bryony Gordon’s Mad World,” a podcast by the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Harry, 32, told host Gordon, “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.” 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 are coming to you from every angle.”
His and Prince William’s mother Diana died Aug. 31, 1997, in a car crash in Paris at age 36.
“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,” he said, “I was, like. ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.’”
The grief eventually resulted in “two years . . . of total chaos. . . I just didn’t know what was wrong with me.” he said. He took up boxing “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.”
He eventually “started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was, like, ‘There is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.’” His brother, he said, told him, “Look, you really need to deal with this. It is not normal to think that nothing has affected you.”
He sought counseling, he revealed, saying, “I’ve done that a couple of times, more than a couple of times, but it’s great.” Now, “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.