Prince Harry on 'History Repeating Itself': 'It's Triggering to Potentially Lose Another Woman in My Life'
"My mother was chased to her death while she was in a relationship with someone that wasn't white and now look what's happened," Prince Harry says in The Me You Can't See
Prince Harry never wants to lose another loved one the way he lost his beloved mother Princess Diana.
In his new AppleTV+ docuseries The Me You Can't See, which he co-created with Oprah Winfrey, the Duke of Sussex talks openly and emotionally about the death of his mother, who died at age 36 following a car crash in Paris in August 1997, one year after she and Prince Charles officially divorced. (At the time, Harry was only 12 years old.)
The docuseries premiere opens with Harry speaking about still feeling haunted by the memories of feeling helpless when his mother struggled with the tabloid media. "I always wanted to be normal, as opposed to being Prince Harry, just being Harry," he says. "It was a puzzling life and, unfortunately, when I think about my mom the first thing that comes to mind is always the same one, over and over again: Strapped in the car, seatbelt across. My brother [Prince William] in the car as well, and my mother driving and being chased by three, four, five mopeds with paparazzi on."
Harry recalls seeing his mother in tears and feeling incapable of providing her support. "She was almost unable to drive because of the tears, there was no protection. One of the feelings that come up is helplessness. Being too young, being a guy too young to be able to help a woman, in this case, your mother. And that happened every single day until the day she died," he shares.
Also in the first episode, Harry speaks about his mother's September 1997 funeral, when he and older brother William, then 15, joined their father Charles, grandfather Prince Philip and uncle Charles, Earl Spencer, in walking solemnly behind Diana's casket. "For me, the thing I remember the most was the sound of the horse's hooves going along the Mall, the red brick road. By this point, both of us were in shock. It was like I was outside of my body," Harry recollects. "I'm just walking along and doing what was expected of me, showing the one-tenth of the emotion that everybody else was showing. This was my mom, you never even met her."
The soon-to-be father of two later adds, "Without question, I was so angry with what happened to [Diana] and the fact that there was no justice at all. Nothing came from that. The same people who chased her into the tunnel, photographed her dying on the backseat of that car."
Throughout the entire docuseries, Harry, who has been seeing a therapist for the past four years, shares how he has been working through the traumas of his childhood through therapy, which has made him look back on specific events of his life thus far.
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"I don't want to think about her, because if I think about [Diana] then it's going to bring up the fact that I can't bring her back and it's just going to make me sad. What's the point in thinking about something sad, what's the point of thinking about someone that you've lost and you're never going to get back again. And I just decided not to talk about it," Harry says about his previous years of keeping his emotions to himself before therapy.
"Towards my late 20s, I was starting to ask questions of should I really be here? That was when I suddenly started going, 'You can't keep hiding from this.' Family members have said just play the game and your life will be easier. But I have a hell of a lot of my mum in me. I feel as though I am outside of the system but I'm still stuck there. The only way to free yourself and break out is to tell the truth," Harry shares.
After reflecting on his mother's tragic death and his pain-driven view of the U.K. media in the first episode, Harry talks about how similarities between his childhood and his adult life had rampantly crept up, especially in his relationship with now-wife Meghan Markle, whom he was first publicly romantically linked to in 2016. (They wed at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018.)
"We get followed. Photographed, chased, harassed. The clicking of cameras and the flashes of the cameras makes my blood boil. It makes me angry and takes me back to what happened to my mom and what I experienced as a kid," Harry explains. "Not just traditional media, but also social media platforms as well. I felt completely helpless."
And recently, Meghan spoke to Oprah about her thoughts of self-harm during royal life and the staggering toll on her mental health, specifically the night of a charity event in January 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall.
"She was completely sane, yet at the quiet of night, these thoughts work her up. The thing that stopped her from seeing it through was how unfair it would be on me after everything that had happened to my mom and to now to be put in a position of losing another woman in my life — with a baby inside of her, our baby," Harry says in the docuseries, recalling the nights leading up to the event. "I'm somewhat ashamed of the way that I dealt with them. And of course, because of the system that we were in and the responsibilities and the duties that we had, we had a quick cuddle and then we had to get changed to jump in a convoy with a police escort and drive to the Royal Albert Hall for a charity event. Then step out into a wall of cameras and pretend as though everything's okay. There wasn't an option to say, 'you know what, tonight, we're not going to go' because just imagine the stories that come from that."
And when he noticed how "history was repeating itself" during his relationship with Meghan, Harry says he was adamant about not letting another woman close to him get mistreated by the press. "Do I have any regrets? Yeah. My biggest regret is not making more of a stance earlier on in my relationship with my wife and calling out the racism when I did. History was repeating itself. My mother was chased to her death while she was in a relationship with someone that wasn't white and now look what's happened. You want to talk about history repeating itself, they're not going to stop until [Meghan] dies," he says.
"It's incredibly triggering to potentially lose another woman in my life, but the list is growing. And it all comes back to the same people, the same business model, the same industry. My father used to say to me, when I was younger, he used to say to both William and I, 'Well, it was like that for me. So it's going to be like that for you.' That doesn't make sense — just because you suffered, it doesn't mean that your kids have to suffer," Harry says, referencing his stepping down from royal life as well as his move to California with Meghan and their son Archie.
In The Me You Can't See, Harry emphasizes how he chose to "break the cycle" by choosing to prioritize the betterment of his mental health. "If you suffered, do everything you can to make sure that whatever negative experiences that you had, that you can make it right for your kids," he says. "[Meghan and I] chose to put our mental health first. That's what we're doing. And that's what we will continue to do. Isn't this all about breaking the cycle? Isn't it all about making sure that history doesn't repeat itself. That whatever pain and suffering has happened to you, that you don't pass on."
Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey's mental-health docuseries, The Me You Can't See, will be available to stream on Apple TV+ starting May 20 at 9 p.m. ET.
If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.