It’s hard to imagine losing your mother, especially at such a young age. For Prince William and Prince Harry, they unfortunately know this pain too well. When they were just 15 and 12 respectively, Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car accident. The boys had to grow up in the royal spotlight with no guidance from their mother, something that clearly affected them.
Harry has spoken about his anger towards the paparazzi in the past, saying he wishes they did something to help his mother.
“I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people that chased her into the tunnel were the same people that were taking photographs of her while she was still dying on the back seat of the car,” said Harry. “She’d had quite a severe head injury but she was very much still alive on the back seat. And those people that caused the accident, instead of helping, were taking photographs of her dying on the back seat.”
Prince William will often speak fondly of his mother, as well, but now he’s speaking out about the immense pain he felt after Diana’s untimely death. His Royal Highness is participating in a BBC special called A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health, which aims to take away the stigma of speaking about your emotions, especially among men.
“I think when you are bereaved at a very young age, anytime really, but particularly at a young age — I can resonate closely to that — you feel a pain like no other pain,” William says of Diana’s death. “And you know that in your life it’s going to be very difficult to come across something that is going to be an even worse pain than that.”
William also points out, however, that grief can bring people closer together as they try to heal.
“It also brings you so close to all those other people out there who have been bereaved. So instantly, when you talk to someone else… You can almost see it in their eyes sometimes. They want to talk about it. But they want you to go first, they want you to say “it’s okay,” they want to have you permission.
The prince also acknowledges that British people often have a habit of holding in their emotions, but says needs to change.
“I think particularly in Britain as well we are nervous about our emotions,” he admitted. We are a bit embarrassed sometimes. The British stiff-upper-lip thing, that’s great and we need to have that sometimes when times are really hard, there has to be a moment for that. But otherwise, we’ve got to relax a little bit and be able to talk about our emotions, because we’re not robots.”
Diana’s death has become a little more centric recently after the birth of Prince Harry’s first child with wife Meghan Markle. Dennis van der Stroom, a former soldier who met Prince Harry at the Invictus Games, says the prince is having a tough time grappling with raising a child without his mom, but takes comfort knowing he’s not alone.
“I told Harry about my mother and we talked about our shared experience of missing a mom,” van der Stroom said. “He said missing a mother is like missing some kind of security, how you need that as a son and it falls away when you lose your mother. He said he meets a lot of people in his work who have lost a mother, father, sister, brother or relatives and when he hears their story, as he heard my story, he said he doesn’t feel so alone.”
The BBC special will air Sunday, May 19th. It will be interesting to hear William speak on mental health issues, especially as part of one of (if not the) most powerful families in the world.