Prince Harry Makes Candid Admission About Childhood Grief

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at the Invictus Games Foundation's 10th Anniversary Service at St Paul's Cathedral on May 8, 2024 in London, England Credit - Max Mumby—GettyImages

Prince Harry opened up about experiencing grief in childhood in a candid conversation at a charity outreach event. The Duke of Sussex, 39, is the global ambassador for Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a U.K. charity dedicated to helping children who have lost parents in the military.

On Thursday, the charity posted a video titled “From Grief to Growth” on their YouTube channel. Filmed in May, the footage shows the royal’s conversation with the charity’s founder, Nikki Scott.

Harry sat down with Scott during his visit to the U.K. in early May after spending a day playing games with 50 children involved in Scotty’s Little Soldiers. Scott lost her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, in Afghanistan and created the charity after seeing how it affected her two children.

Harry, a father-of-two himself, spent most of the conversation asking Scott thoughtful questions about her experiences as a widow and as a mother, as well pointing to the change she has made for the children involved in the charity. He praised Scott, saying the smiles she has put on these kids' faces is the “antidote” to the pain.

Harry, who lost his mother, Princess Diana, when he was  12-years-old, then opened up about his own experience with grief.

“It’s so easy as a kid to think or convince yourself—I would know, I was 12—that you need to be sad for as long as possible to prove to them that they’re missed,” he said. “But then there's this realization that they must want me to be happy.”

They spoke about the importance of celebrating the life of a parent who has died, and Harry said that though it’s often easier to not talk about pain, celebrating means that “things will get easier.”

Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris, France, on August 31, 1997. In a January 2023 interview with Good Morning America ahead of the release of his memoir Spare, Harry opened up about turning to therapy later in life to deal with the loss, and expressed compassion for his father, King Charles III [then the Prince of Wales], for having to share the news of his mother’s death with him and his older brother, Prince William.

Princess Diana with sons Harry and William in London, England, in 1995.<span class="copyright">Antony Jones—Getty Images</span>
Princess Diana with sons Harry and William in London, England, in 1995.Antony Jones—Getty Images

Scott, meanwhile, has opened up about having to tell her then 5-year-old son Kai about his father’s death, and raising her then seven-month old daughter Brooke.

In a roundtable earlier in the day with children and volunteers, Harry shared with the group that he did not talk about his mother’s death for 10 years. Yet, once he finally did, it changed his life.

“That’s what I was saying to [the kids]: if you suppress it for too long, you can’t suppress it forever; it’s not sustainable,” he told Scott. “It will eat away at you.”

One girl shared how important it was to hear Harry’s experiences, and to feel seen. “It felt very personal and like he understood what we were going through,” she said.

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