Prince Harry may not realise it, but the interview he has just given Bryony Gordon of the Telegraph about his struggle with mental health problems following the death of his mother Diana is extremely important.
Not only has his candid conversation put the issue back at the forefront of our minds, but his example could set the tone for many young guys afraid to speak out for fear of showing weakness.
Harry told Gordon that he spent nearly 20 years not speaking – or confronting the way he felt – about his mother’s tragic passing, before almost suffering a complete breakdown and entering into counselling.
Together his brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, he is promoting the Heads Together mental health campaign, the official charity of the London Marathon.
“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,” Harry said.
“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and all sorts of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.”
The Princess of Wales, Diana Spencer, died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.
“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, I was like ‘right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.'”
Harry described himself as a “typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it.
“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.”
He said Prince William took him aside and told him: “Look, you really need to deal with this. It is not normal to think that nothing has affected you.”
Harry spoke to Gordon over a cup of tea at Kensington Palace for her podcast on mental health. Gordon has openly discussed her own battles with bulimia, alcoholism and OCD in the past. Far from preened for interview, Harry was alone with Gordon in the room without a publicist.
“He’s really articulate and a sound guy,” Gordon said. “I was quite amazed when he talked candidly and openly about it.
“He spoke about how he had to have counselling and how his life had been chaos. He said ‘I didn’t have a problem, I was a problem’, and his brother had tried to intervene and he’d ignored him until quite recently.”
“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,” Harry concluded.
For anyone who thought the royals couldn’t possibly be real, we hope this proves otherwise.