The younger son of Princess Diana was only 12 when he lost his mother and he struggled alone to overcome his feelings of grief.
For a young child, the loss of one's parents might seem like the end of their life as they know it. Children who lose a parent in early life can experience prolonged grief and long-term emotional problems if they fail to resolve their sense of loss. They could experience symptoms of depression, they could be more anxious and withdrawn or show more problems in school. They could also have poorer academic performance than non-bereaved children, Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. in psychology writes in Psychology Today.
Prince Harry had opened up about what went on within him after the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. At the age of 12, he had to walk behind the coffin of his mother as she received a public funeral. On the outside, Harry may have seemed put together but inside he was aching from all the pain locked inside.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said he sought counseling after 20 years of not thinking about the death of his mother, Princess Diana, and two years of "total chaos" in his life. He was in his late 20s when he started processing his grief only after he was close to a "complete breakdown".
The actor, who opened up in 2017, said that he was in a "good place" because of the process he went through. The Duke of Sussex, 35, said that boxing "saved" him by helping him let out his aggression. He decided to speak out about his trauma and how he overcame it to encourage others to do the same and break the stigma around mental health issues.
Back then, he, his brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were promoting the Heads Together mental health campaign, which was the London Marathon's charity of the year.
"I just couldn’t put my finger on it," he said, according to Forbes. "I just didn’t know what was wrong with me." The father-of-one said he has been "very close to total breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and lies and misconceptions are coming to you from every angle."
In the frank interview, he revealed that he was following the ostrich policy and blocking his feelings that led to psychological effects. "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 admitted. "I thought that thinking of her was only going to make me sad and 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.'"
During his 20s, he "ran around going ‘life is great’ or ‘life is fine.'" It was also the time when he was dubbed as "crazy" after being photographed in situations that were a PR nightmare for the royal family. He made headlines for smoking pot, being wildly drunk at parties, attending a costume ball in a Nazi uniform, as well as hanging out with different beautiful young women in revealing outfits.
"And then I started to have a few conversations," he said. "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.'"
The young prince also shed some light back then about the daily pressures on his family. This was before he couldn't take the pressure anymore and stepped away from the spotlight. "I have no idea how any of us stay sane. But it comes with the job, and one of the hardest things is not being able to have a voice and stand up for yourself. You just have to let it wash over you," he said.
Since then, he's gotten married, had a child, moved away from the UK to California, US, and left the royal life behind.