By Emma Dooney
Prince Harry has revealed he used drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of his mother's death, having never dealt with the grief as a child.
- Prince Harry has revealed he used drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain of losing his mother, Princess Diana of Wales.
- Speaking in his new docuseries, The Me You Can't See, Harry admitted he abused substances to 'mask' the pain of his childhood trauma.
- In other royal news, Prince Harry reveals why Archie's first words were 'really sad' for him in new docuseries.
The Duke of Sussex opened up about his history of substance abuse in his new mental health docuseries, The Me You Can't See, admitting he used to drink "a week's worth of alcohol" on a Friday or Saturday night.
In the first episode of the five-part Apple TV+ documentary, which was co-created with Oprah Winfrey, Harry explained how his unresolved grief led to anxiety and panic attacks in adulthood. The duke was just 12 when his mother, Princess Diana of Wales, was killed tragically in a car crash.
"I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling," he told Oprah.
This habit of boozing and partying became particularly bad between the ages of 28 and 32 when Harry's mental health was at its worst. He added that he didn't derive any pleasure from the drugs and alcohol, using them solely to "mask" the pain of his grief.
"I was just all over the place mentally," he said.
The young royal would attempt to stir up courage with self pep talks before public engagements, but they did little to relieve his anxiety.
"Every time I put a suit on and tie on … having to do the role and go, 'Right, game face', look in the mirror and say, 'Let’s go’. Before I even left the house I was pouring with sweat. I was in fight or flight mode," he explained.
Harry chose to seek treatment for his mental health issues four years ago, for both himself and his relationship with his then-girlfriend, Meghan Markle. "I was going to have to deal with my past, because there was anger there, and it wasn't anger at her. It was just anger," he said.
The duke attributes this anguish to his childhood, which was abruptly disrupted by the death of Princess Diana in 1997. He revealed he had never been given the opportunity to fully process the grief of his mother's passing and the trauma of his participation in her high-profile funeral. Prince Harry and Prince William were famously obliged to walk behind the coffin of the late Diana during the procession at Westminster Abbey, as part of a family decision Earl Spencer has since criticized as "cruel."
"For me the thing I remember the most was the sound of the horses' hooves going along the Mall," Harry recalled.
"It was like I was outside of my body and just walking along doing what was expected of me... showing one-tenth of the emotion that everybody else was showing. This was my mum—you never even met her."
Harry also criticized the Royal Family for their "neglect" in helping Meghan, who considered ending her life in 2015 as a result of social media bullying. The Duchess of Sussex shared the heartbreaking experience in the couple's bombshell interview with Oprah, revealing that she is still haunted by a photo taken during the time when she was having suicidal thoughts. When it became clear his relatives would not be able to intervene appropriately, Harry realized he and Meghan needed to emigrate to the US with their son Archie.
"That was one of the biggest reasons to leave, feeling trapped and feeling controlled through fear, both by the media and by the system itself which never encouraged the talking about this kind of trauma," he said. "Certainly, now I will never be bullied into silence."
Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.
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