Prince Harry has described using drink and drugs as a ‘mask’ to cope with the trauma of his mother’s death.
The duke was just 12 when Princess Diana died in a car crash while being chased by the press in Paris in 1997.
In a new mental health documentary The Me You Can’t See, he claimed that his family did not speak about the tragic loss and just expected him to deal with the resulting press attention and mental distress.
The duke, 36, said he initially coped by not thinking or talking about Diana but later was ‘just all over the place mentally’.
He said that he lived through ‘a nightmare time in my life’ between the ages of 28 and 32 when he met the American actress Meghan Markle.
‘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 said.
‘I would find myself drinking not because I was enjoying it, but because I was trying to mask something,’ he added.
Harry revealed he is now undergoing a form of therapy known as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) to treat unresolved anxiety stemming from his anger at the media and the death of his mother.
He said that he felt furious about the circumstances of Diana’s death and ‘the fact that there was no justice, at all…The same people that chased her into the tunnel photographed her dying on the backseat of that car’.
The royal addressed traumatic memories from his childhood, including the moment he was famously photographed with his brother, father, uncle and grandfather walking behind Diana’s coffin at her funeral.
‘For me the thing I remember the most was the sound of the horses’ hooves going along the Mall,’ 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.’
He also spoke about a memory from years before when he was sitting in the back of his mother’s car while she was crying and being pursued by photographers.
‘One of the feelings that comes up for me always is the helplessness. Being a guy and being too young to help a woman, in this case your mother, and that happened every single day.
‘The clicking of cameras, and the flash of cameras makes my blood boil. It makes me angry. It takes me back to what happened to my mum, what I experienced as a kid.’
The Me You Can’t See debuted Thursday night on Apple’s streaming service and was produced by Harry and Winfrey.
Other celebrity contributors include Lady Gaga and the son of the late comic Robin Williams, the mental health advocate Zak Williams.
During the programme Harry also accused the royal family of ‘total neglect’ when his wife Meghan was feeling suicidal amid harassment on social media.
Harry said he was ashamed the situation had got ‘that bad’ and also suspected the royals would not have been able to help.
That alleged abandonment was one of the ‘biggest reasons’ the couple left the UK, Harry said.
‘Certainly now I will never be bullied into silence,’ he added.
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