Prince Harry urged Tunisia terror attack survivor Owen Richards to “talk about what happened" because "when he lost his mum, he didn’t.”

By Phil Boucher
June 15, 2020 02:53 PM
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Prince Harry has described the death of his mother Princess Diana as a “wound that festers,” but that hasn’t stopped him from bravely drawing on his tragic life experiences to help others.

Owen Richards, 21, who lost his brother, uncle and grandfather in the Tunisian terror attacks of 2015, revealed that the dad of one offered some very personal advice in March 2019 while he unveiled a monument to the 31 Britons who died in the attacks.

“He said I must talk about what happened,” Owen told the Daily Mirror on Monday about his involvement in the Sousse attack in June 2015, where 23-year-old Tunisian student Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on western tourists enjoying the sun, sea, and sand of northern Tunisia, killing 38.

“He said he knew personally because when he lost his mum, he didn’t,” added Owen.

Prince Harry with Owen Richards and his mother Suzanne Richards

"It was a bit weird when he said, ‘when my mum was killed,' because she’s not just any mum – she’s Princess Diana," continued Owen.

"It seemed like he was trying to give some advice rather than have a meaningless conversation.”

Owen was just 16 years old when Rezgui attacked the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port El Kantaoui, killing his elder brother Joel, 19, uncle Adrian Evans, 49, and grandad Pat Evans, 78, who the then high-school student cradled in his final moments.

Prince William, Princess Diana and Prince Harry

"Pat said: 'He got me,'” Owen, who sustained a bullet wound to the arm, told the Mirror about the life-changing events that occurred. A coroner later praised Owen for his “extraordinary courage” in trying to help his grandfather.

Seifeddine Rezgui was shot dead half an hour after opening fire in Sousse. A further seven people were sentenced to life in prison in February 2019 for the terror attacks in Tunisia.

During the memorial, where Harry unveiled a sculpture called “Infinite Wave” consisting of 31 individual streams representing the British victims of the attacks, Owen displayed his inner strength once again by bravely making a speech about the horrific attack, with Harry providing a steadying influence from the audience.

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“I was nervous but Harry nodded during my speech," sais Owen, adding that he told the Duke of Sussex, “When it happened and how I lost my brother, my grandad, and my uncle."

In a thoughtful moment afterward, Owen gifted Harry and wife Meghan Markle a soft toy for their son Archie from the charity he and mother Suzanne Richards set up in the aftermath of the attacks to provide support for other victims of terrorism.

OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty

"Mum and I had a teddy from our charity Smile for Joel – named after my brother – which we gave to him for his wife who was pregnant," Owen added.

This isn't the first time that Harry has spoken up about the benefits of talking through traumatic events. In April 2017,  he candidly told the Telegraph‘s Bryony Gordon Mad World podcast that "shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had quite a serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well.”

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He continued, “My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum because why would that help?”

After experiencing two years of “total chaos” in his early-20s — and with the “huge support” of brother Prince William — he began seeking professional help, telling Gordon he saw a therapist “more than a couple of times.” He also credited boxing as a coping mechanism.