In a candid admission of how he felt unable – or unwilling – to speak about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Harry admitted he only started to come to terms with the loss three years ago.
Speaking at an event at Kensington Palace for the mental health charity Heads Together, the 31-year-old admitted that his mother’s sudden death when he was aged just 12 had been difficult to confront.
In a conversation with Rio Ferdinand, the former England footballer, one of several high-profile sports stars invited to speak about their psychological problems, Harry sought to give advice.
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The former defender lost his wife, Rebecca, to breast cancer last year. When Ferdinand asked Harry what impact her death might have on their children, the Prince drew on his own experience.
“I really regret not ever talking about it,” he replied, before adding that he did not speak about losing his mother “for the first 28 years of my life”.
Harry’s brother, William, was just 15 when Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August, 1997. That traumatic experience may have cast a long shadow over his life, but he explained, he has learned how to process his grief.
“It’s OK to suffer, as long as you can talk about it,” he said. “It’s not a weakness. Weakness is having a problem and not recognising it and not solving that problem.”
He added: “The key message here today is that everyone can suffer from mental health [problems].”
Olympic gold medallists Victoria Pendleton and Dame Kelly Holmes were among the other guests at yesterday’s event, all of whom were accompanied by a partner, relative or sports psychologist who had helped them through their darkest moments.
Heads Together was founded by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and has brought together eight mental health charities and organisations to tackle the stigma around psychological problems.