12:25 PM PDT, May 21, 2021
Watching his wife Meghan Markle’s treatment by the royal family and the press was “incredibly triggering” because his own late mother, Princess Diana, was “chased to her death while she was in a relationship with someone that wasn’t white,” Prince Harry revealed in a candid conversation in his new docuseries “The Me You Can’t See.”
The docuseries centering on mental health, which debuted Thursday on AppleTV+, was co-created by Oprah and Prince Harry.
He went on to say that his only regret about leaving the royal family is that he didn’t call out their racist attitudes against Meghan earlier.
“My father used to say to me when I was younger, ‘Well, it was like that for me, so it’s going to be like that for you,'” Prince Harry recalled. “That doesn’t make sense. Just because you suffered, that doesn’t mean your kids have to suffer. In fact, quite the opposite. If you suffered, do everything you can to make sure whatever negative experience you had, you can make it right for your kids.”
Here’s what else we learned:
Returning to London for Prince Philip’s Funeral ‘Worried’ Him
“I was worried about it. I was afraid,” Prince Harry said of having to face the British royal family at his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral last month, in an interview with the Associated Press promoting the docuseries.
He explained that having to return to London, where he felt like the target of press and paparazzi, caused him anxiety, but coping skills he learned in therapy “definitely made it a lot easier, but the heart still pounds.”
His Struggle with Mental Health Growing Up
“Therapy has equipped me to be able to take on everything,” Prince Harry said. “That’s why I’m here now. That’s why my wife is here now.”
That hasn’t always been the case, though. Prince Harry explained that he had never been encouraged to seek mental health growing up, even in the aftermath of his mom Princess Diana’s sudden death in 1997 while being chased in the car by paparazzi. Harry was just 12 years old at the time.
“If people said, ‘How are you?’ I’d be like, ‘fine.’ Never happy. Never sad, just fine.’ Fine was the easy answer. But I was all over the place mentally,'” he said. “Family members have said just play the game and your life will be easier.”
His “panic attacks [and] severe anxiety,” spurred on from royal life, being in the spotlight or being in a car, came to a head in is late 20s, which is when he said he turns to partying, drinking and doing drugs as a coping mechanism.
“I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling,” Prince Harry said. “But I slowly became aware that I wasn’t drinking Monday to Friday, but I would probably drink a week’s worth in one day on a Friday or a Saturday night. And I would find myself drinking, not because I was enjoying it but because I was trying to mask something,”
A Fight with Meghan Led Him to Therapy
After years of royal duty and burn-out, Harry said he reached his breaking point. “It was like someone had taken a lid off the emotions that I’ve suppressed for so many years suddenly came to the forefront,” he said.
When he and Meghan, who was his girlfriend at the time, had gotten into a fight, she suggested he seek out a therapist.
“When she said, ‘I think you need to see someone,’ that was in reaction to an argument we had. And in that argument, not knowing about it, I reverted back to 12-year-old Harry,” he recalls.
Through therapy, “I became aware that I’d been living in a bubble, within this family, within this institution. I was almost trapped in a thought process or mindset,” he said.
Archie’s First Words Were ‘Grandma’
Prince Harry’s journey in fatherhood has only made him miss his mom more. “It was one of the first words that he said, apart from ‘mama,’ ‘papa,’ it was then ‘grandma.’ Grandma Diana,” he said of his 2-year-old son, Archie. “It’s the sweetest thing, but at the same time, it makes me really sad because she should be here.”
He has found ways to honor the late Princess Diana, including keeping a photo of her in Archie’s nursery.
“I wish she could’ve meet Meghan,” Harry, whose daughter will be born in the summer, said. “I wish she was around for Archie.”
Archie’s very first word, however, wasn’t exactly the most traditional. “Crocodile,” Harry said. “Three syllables.”
Leaving the Family Business Seemed Impossible… Until It Wasn’t
Prince Harry said feeling trapped and wanting to protect his family was what ultimately led him to decide to leave the royal family.
“History was repeating itself … it’s incredibly triggering to potentially lose another woman in my life,” Prince Harry said. “And it all comes back to the same people the same business model the same industry.”
But he kept being told that leaving the family couldn’t be done. “There was no option to leave,” Prince Harry said. “Eventually, when I made that decision for my family, I was still told, ‘You can’t do this.’ It’s like, well, how bad does it have to get until I am allowed to do this? Well, she was going to end her own life. It shouldn’t have to get to that.
“My biggest regret is not making more of a stance earlier in my relationship with my wife and calling out racism when I did,” Prince Harry said.
Prince Harry, Meghan and Archie now live in Montecito, California, about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles.