Why Prince Harry was ‘afraid’ to return to London for Prince Philip’s funeral
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The Duke of Sussex has admitted that he was “afraid” to come to the United Kingdom for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last month because he was afraid it might “trigger” his earlier trauma.
“I was worried about it, I was afraid,” Harry said in a recent joint interview with Oprah Winfrey to promote a mental-health series they co-created and co-executive produced for Apple TV+.
“Going through the motions and being able to lean on the toolbox, and lean on the learnings that I’ve grown from over the past, it definitely made it a lot easier, but the heart still pounds,” he added.
In the episode, Harry discusses horrific childhood memories, such as the day he was photographed alongside his brother, father, uncle, and grandpa walking behind Diana’s coffin during her burial.
“The sound of the horses’ hooves going along the Mall was the thing I remember the most,” the 36-year-old told his series co-host Oprah Winfrey.
“It was like I was outside of my body and just walking along doing what was expected of me. (I was) showing one tenth of the emotion that everybody else was showing: This was my mum – you never even met her.”
“Looking through this series, people are triggered by all sorts of things,” the Duke said. “And I think one thread that is woven through all the stories, is the condition doesn’t define you, but you still have to be able to manage it”.
“You still have to change certain things in your life to be able to continue as much as humanly possible, as much as normal, and have a joyful, happy life.”
“But as I’ve learned over the years, you know, so many of us, probably 99.9 per cent of us are carrying around some form of unresolved grief, trauma or loss. And that manifests itself unless we are able to do the very human thing, which is processing grief, processing trauma and processing loss.”
Although Harry’s self-work is new, he and his older brother, The Duke of Cambridge, have long advocated for the significance of mental health. In 2016, Harry, William, and their wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge established Heads Together, a project to encourage people to speak out and not be afraid to seek assistance when their mental health is at risk.
Returning to London to attend Prince Philip’s funeral last month meant revisiting a city where he felt trapped and stalked by cameras once more. It would be a test of his capacity to deal with the anxiety that was resurfacing.
Harry is living what he preaches by sharing his personal experiences with trauma and loss. In ‘The Me You Can’t See,’ he recalls feeling powerless as a child while traveling in a car with his mother, Princess Diana, who sobbed as they were besieged by cameras and she struggled to drive.
Years later, Diana was killed in Paris when the car she and her companion Dodi Fayed were traveling in crashed after a high-speed pursuit to avoid being photographed. Harry was 12 years old at the time, and he controlled his emotions in order to meet the sorrowful crowd assembled outside Kensington Palace.
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