The Heartbreaking Reason Prince Harry Was ‘Close to a Complete Breakdown on Numerous Occasions’

Prince Harry’s world was forever changed when his mother, Princess Diana, died in 1997. He carried that traumatic experience with him through the years and finally got help with processing his grief, thanks in part to his brother Prince William’s suggestion. In a 2017 interview, Prince Harry admitted that he was “close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.”

prince harry mental health
Prince Harry | VICTORIA JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Prince Harry couldn’t deal with his grief

Prince Harry opened up about his mental health struggles during a 2017 interview with The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon on the Mad World podcast, sharing that he was “very close” to having a “complete breakdown” in his late 20s, as he struggled with his mother’s death.

He shared: “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.”

Prince Harry continued: “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.”

There were understandably some dark days for Prince Harry and he admitted he sank into a depression. He didn’t take the time to grieve until he was 28.

Prince Harry explained: “My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mom, 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, I was like ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.’”

He continued: “I was a typical 20-, 25-, 28-year-old running around going ‘Life is great,’ or ‘Life is fine’ and that was exactly it.” Things changed, however, as he recalled: “And then [I] 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.”

How Prince William helped his brother

Prince Harry said it was two years of “total chaos” before he could manage his emotions and his brother, Prince William, was instrumental in helping him.

Harry shared: “My brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me. He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s OK. The timing wasn’t right. You need to feel it in yourself, you need to find the right person to talk to as well.”

He credits boxing with helping him work through his emotions, noting, “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.”

Prince Harry’s experience inspired him to help others

Prince Harry faced tragedy at a young age and it took him a very long time to address his feelings, but the experience has certainly inspired him to help others. During the interview, he remarked: “What we are trying to do is normalize 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**t day, can I just tell about it?’ Because then you walk away and it’s done.”

Prince Harry is now working with Oprah Winfrey on a documentary series and shared with Gordon how important their 2017 conversation was.

Harry explained: “When I did your podcast two years ago the response made me realize what an impact sharing my story could have, and what an impact other stories can have for so many who are suffering silently. If the viewers can relate to the pain and perhaps the experience, then it could save lives, as we will focus on prevention and positive outcomes.”

He shared: “I’m very much still on my own path. What I have learned and I continue to learn in the space of mental health, mental illness and self-awareness is that all roads lead back to our mental wellbeing, how we look after ourselves and each other.”