In yet another first for a senior member of the royal family, Prince Harry has given an extensive TV interview in which he described in excruciating detail the panic attacks he suffered following the death of Princess Diana.
In the interview for the Army channel Forces TV, Harry says that he would suffer appalling panic attacks that made his body feel like “a washing machine” every time he found himself in a room full of people.
Harry has done the interview as part of his efforts to promote this year’s Invictus Games. He believes the panic attacks were caused by his failure to deal with the death of his mother when he was 12.
Describing how the panic attacks would start, Harry says: “In my case, every single time I was in any room with loads of people, which is quite often, I was just pouring with sweat, my heart beating—boom, boom, boom, boom —literally, just like a washing machine.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, get me out of here now. Oh, hang on, I can’t get out of here, I have got to just hide it.’”
Earlier this year, Harry discussed the struggles he had experienced in relation to his own mental health, and told how he had sought professional help for his mental-health issues at the age of 28 after what he described as “two years of total chaos.”
He said he took up boxing because he feared he was “on the verge of punching someone.”
Speaking to his friend Dave Henson, a double amputee and former Invictus competitor who went on to win bronze at the Rio Paralympics, Harry says that fighting in Afghanistan was the “trigger” that finally forced him to deal with his mother’s death.
“If you lose your mum at the age of 12, you have got to deal with it.
“The idea that 20 years later I still hadn’t really… that 15, 17 years later I still hadn’t dealt with it. Afghanistan was the moment where I was like, ‘Right, deal with it.’”
Harry says his experience is not atypical for people in the forces: “So many people who suffer from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, it can be from when you were younger and Afghanistan is the trigger to bring it all to light and to deal with that stuff.”
In the interview, he also jokes: “So many people are, you know, like slightly mental. Awesome! We are, we are all mental and we have all got to deal with our stuff.
“Rather than running around at 50 percent capacity, imagine if we could run around at 100 percent capacity. Imagine what we could achieve.”