Prince Harry said he struggled to cope with the death of his mother Princess Diana well into his twenties.
The 32-year-old royal says he spent years blocking out the grief he experienced following his mother’s death in 1997, which led to his life becoming ‘total chaos’.
‘I’ve spent most of my life saying ‘I’m fine’. ‘Fine’ is so much better than having to go into the details,’ he said in an interview with The Telegraph.
‘If anybody looked at my life, if you look back to the fact I lost my mum at the age of 12 on a public platform ... And everything else that happens with this role and the pressures that come with it. Then going to Afghanistan... Anybody would look at that and go, ‘OK, there must be something wrong with you. You can’t be totally normal (after that)’.
The prince served in Afghanistan before leaving the military in 2015, but says that was not to blame for his emotional distress.
‘I buried my head in the sand for many, many years. It’s not Afghanistan-related: I’m not one of those people who saw their best mate blown up next to them, thank God. I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all my emotions for the last 20 years has had quite a serious effect on my personal life and my work,’ he said.
‘My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand and refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help? It’s not going to bring her back. I was a typical 20, 25, 28 year old, running around going ‘life is great — well, life is fine.’ But there was all this grief I’d never processed that came to the forefront.'
He added: ‘It was 20 years of not thinking about it, then two years of total chaos. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.’
Harry sought the help of a professional to overcome his issues with mental health, where he was advised to take up boxing.
‘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.’