There are few families of prominence in the world who guard – or at least seek to guard – their privacy more than the British royals. From Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge moving to the countryside to at least be ostensibly out of the reach of the paparazzi as they raise their young children to the Queen’s famously tight-lipped approach to the press, the family’s discomfort from prying eyes has always, rather ironically, been quite on display.
Hence, it was rather shocking, though in an absolutely welcome way, when Prince Harry decided to open up to The Telegraph this week about something deeply personal to him – his own mental health issues.
Interviewed for the newspaper’s debut episode of its new podcast, Mad World, an interview-series dedicated to dispelling the stigma surrounding mental health issues, Harry shared one of his most innermost secrets with the world.
“I can safely say,” he related to host Bryony Gordon, “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 went on to describe how his repressed grief had been affecting him throughout his life — that at times he’d felt “on the verge of punching someone,” and was facing anxiety during his royal engagements, adding that at the time, he was “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.”
Harry disclosed that his brother, Prince William, and others that were close to him, were urging him to seek help, with William saying, “Look, you really need to deal with this. It is not normal to think that nothing has affected you.”
Eventually, Harry took William’s words to heart, finding a therapist and taking up boxing as a form of stress release.
“I can’t encourage people enough to just have that conversation,” Harry said about talking with his brother about seeking help, “because you will be surprised firstly, how much support you get and secondly, how many people literally are longing for you to come out.”
He added, “The experience I have had is that once you start talking about it, you realise that actually you’re part of quite a big club.”
Of his current focus on mental health, and his work with the UK charity “Heads Together”, Harry describes that what he is trying to do is “normalise the conversation to the point where anyone can sit down and have a coffee and just go ‘you know what, I’ve had a really s— day, can I just tell you about it? Because then you walk away and it’s done.”
For continuing the conversation about the importance of mental health and proving that even walls built around royalty do not protect them from what it means to be human, we chose Prince Harry as our Speak of the Week.