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Prince Harry’s Psychological Journey

Prince Harry photo Prince Harry of England recently opened up about his mental health in an article in U.S. News. He revealed that when his mother, Princess Diana, died in an automobile crash in August, 1997, he was so distraught that he shut down his emotions for almost 20 years. From age 12, when the accident occurred, until recently, the now 32-year-old tried to keep himself from thinking about his mother and hence was virtually a robot.

“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he said to a British newspaper, The Telegraph. He mentioned that the two years prior to entering therapy were chaotic.

Prince William, witnessing this chaotic state first hand, came to his brother’s aid. ‘It’s all about timing.” Prince Harry noted. “And for me personally, my brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me. He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s OK.’

Eventually he sought psychotherapy to help him finally deal with his feelings about his mother and work through his issues. He noted that at one point he was on the verge of a breakdown. Through therapy he found that one of his major problems was an inability to assert himself. So he took up boxing. “And that really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone, so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier,” he said.

He said he had been in therapy for two-and-a-half years and had come to a good place. “Because of the process I have been through over the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve now been able to take my work seriously, been able to take my private life seriously as well, and been able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference and things that I think will make a difference to everybody else,” he said.

Both Prince Harry and Prince William were very close to their mother, Princess Diana. She seemed to use them as a form of consolation for her suffering at the hands of her husband, Prince Charles, who was having an affair with Camilla Shand throughout their relationship. Prince Charles later married Camilla Shand. Prince Harry in particular seemed lost after his mother’s death, and I wonder whether the mental problems he recently revealed were related to the mental problems of his mother.

From January 1996 to August 1997, Dr. Paul Dawson was Princess Diana’s psychotherapist. Princess Diana, who became a princess when she married Prince Charles of England, sought help with regard to problems in her love life. At the time of the therapy with Dawson, she was separated from Prince Charles and was about to divorce him. The psychotherapy ended when she was killed in a car crash.

In his book, Princess Diana’s Therapist, he provides session-by-session details about his work with Princess Diana, done in the home of one of Diana’s friends or on telephone. Most of the sessions were spent talking about her failed love life. She speaks about six affairs that she had while her husband, Prince Charles was involved with his longtime girlfriend, Camilla Shand, and others. Dr. Dawson diagnosed her as a borderline personality and also noted that she suffered from bulimia.

One might conjecture that the sudden death of his mother left the young prince in a state of despair. He was now a “motherless child,” who was in the public eye and had to pretend all was right, when inside he knew it really wasn’t right. For the next twenty years he lived a pretended life, suppressing all his feelings about his mother. Also, the fact that his mother had been diagnosed as a borderline (an emotionally unsteady personality), and as someone who had been unsuccessful at relationships, she might not have really been able to be there for him or to guide him towards handling his own feelings.

Along came Meghan Markle, his current girlfriend. She is three years older than he is, and comes from a California culture in which mental health is encouraged. She describes her mother as a “yoga therapist,” and she has apparently become a therapist/soul mate/mother surrogate to the prince. Miss Markle is a spirited, independent-minded person who wrote in a recent blog, “In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”

Miss Markle, who stars in the TV show, “Suits,” has dated Prince Harry for almost a year. Some close to the prince remarked about the relationship, “Meghan has had a profound influence on his life. Everyone believes they will go the distance.” Another said, “Harry is more serious [about Meghan] than he ever has been about a woman before.” For her part, Meghan replied when asked about her relationship with Prince Harry, “My cup runneth over and I’m the luckiest girl in the world.”

Prince Harry’s mental state seems to have become quite stable since his therapy and since meeting Meghan Markle. He has gradually introduced her to almost everybody in the royal family, including Prince Charles, Prince William, Princess Charlotte and finally Kate Middleton. She apparently got on well with all of them, and signs are pointing to an engagement and marriage.

In speaking out about his mental illness, Prince Harry became a role model for all those around the world who have suffered the effects of emotional turmoil but have been afraid to see a professional about it. His bold move has helped make it more acceptable, almost fashionable to take care of one’s mental problems.

With Meghan Markle at his side apparently ready to walk up the aisle with him, his story now almost has a fairy tale ending.

Prince Harry’s Psychological Journey

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2017). Prince Harry’s Psychological Journey. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 26 Apr 2017
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