Prince Harry came “very close” to having a “complete breakdown” as he struggled with his mother’s death during his late twenties — admitting in a new interview that he was “on the verge of punching someone” on numerous occasions.
“I can safely say that losing my mom 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,” the 32-year-old told The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon in a podcast posted Sunday.
“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,” he explained.
Harry said he even sought help from a “shrink” and took up boxing as a way to cope with the pain.
“I’ve done that a couple of times, more than a couple of times, but it’s great,” he told Gordon.
The royal recalled how he slowly sank into depression after his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car accident in 1997 — saying he didn’t actually take the time to grieve until he was 28.
“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?” Harry said. “[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.’
“I was a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it,” he remembered. “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.”
Harry admitted that it took roughly two years of “total chaos” before he managed to get his emotions in check.
“My brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me,” he said of Prince William. “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.”
One of the best ways to let out his frustrations, Harry said, was to step inside the ring.
“During those years I took up boxing, because everyone was saying boxing is good for you and it’s a really good way of letting out aggression,” he explained. “And 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.”
Harry and his brother will be commemorating the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death with a statue and award ceremony — celebrating “kindness, compassion and service” — in her honor.