Hosting a BBQ to help get people to open up about their struggles, Prince Harry revealed that he struggled in the years following his mother’s death, and he regrets not speaking about it.
The BBQ took place in Kensington Palace’s garden on 14th July for Heads Together, the initiative started by William, Kate and Harry and their Royal Foundation. It brings together eight mental health charities and organisations to help change the conversation on mental health and tackle the stigma that surrounds it.
Sports stars, well-known figures and members of the public attended the gathering, including Rio Ferdinand, Dame Kelly Holmes, Victoria Pendleton, Jonathan Trott and Iwan Thomas. Prince Harry chatted to them all about the hard times they all faced and the support they had which got them through it.
The message from Harry was that: “It’s OK to suffer, as long as you talk about it.
“It’s not a weakness. Weakness is having a problem and not recognising it and not solving that problem,” he said. “The key message here today is that everyone can suffer from mental health.
“Whether you’re a member of the Royal Family, whether you’re a soldier, whether you’re a sports star, whether you’re a team sport, individual sport, whether you’re a white van driver, whether you’re a mother, father, a child, it doesn’t really matter.”
It was then that the former Army Captain opened up about his own personal battle: dealing with the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Footballer Rio Ferdinand reportedly asked the Prince about his struggle, having lost his wife recently to cancer, leaving his three children motherless, curious as to the impact it had on the Royal growing up.
Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997, whilst Prince William and Prince Harry were at Balmoral with Prince Charles and The Queen.
The two brave boys, aged 12 and 15, stoically walked behind the coffin on its route to Westminster Abbey, and it appears they did not once shed a tear in public. It is only in recent years the brothers have spoken a little more openly about their grief.
“He’s gone through different stages in his life that my kids are going to be going towards,” Ferdinand said. “So to get some of his experiences is very rewarding for me and very educational in many ways.”
Footage from the day also shows the guests playing cricket in the Palace grounds, likely hoping an informal atmosphere was conducive to opening up about personal issues.
Dame Kelly Holmes also revealed her battle with depression, while Iwan Thomas admitted he couldn’t retire from sport when he wanted to due to injury.
“No-one knew at all what I was going through. I was having treatment and they thought I was crying because the treatment was so hard,” Holmes said to Prince Harry. “I feel a lot stronger, even in the last 18 months.”
Prince Harry & sports stars discuss their struggles & support at a Heads Together BBQ. This is what they had to say.https://t.co/DX9suCtr8D
— Heads Together (@heads_together) July 25, 2016
Thomas spoke for the first time about his inner demons: “I’d loads of little niggling injuries whereby I looked like I was going to get back and I could train three or four days a week.
“Then I had a couple of seasons where it looked like I was going to run fast again, then another injury would come in.
“I kept trying and trying, thinking ‘one more season, I can get back’, that’s all I wanted to do was get back to where I wanted to be, then quit, and I never got back.”