Prince Harry: ‘There was an unravelling’ after tour of Afghanistan | UK News


The Duke of Sussex has told of an “unravelling” after he returned from his tour of Afghanistan that triggered the “trauma” of losing his mother aged 12.

In his Heart of Invictus docuseries released on Netflix on Wednesday, Harry said his “biggest struggle” was “no one around me could really help”.

“I didn’t have that support structure, that network or that expert advice to identify actually what was going on with me,” he said.

“Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you really consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the foetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously.”

Prince Harry’s Heart of Invictus Netflix Doc
Prince Harry’s Heart of Invictus Netflix Doc

The duke, an Army veteran who undertook two tours of Afghanistan, said mental illness was a “dirty word” when he first joined the military and added he wants to cure the “stigma” within society.

“Look, I can only speak for my personal experience, my tour of Afghanistan in 2012 flying Apaches, somewhere after that there was an unravelling and the trigger for me was actually returning from Afghanistan,” he said.

“But the stuff that was coming up was from 1997, from the age of 12, losing my mum at such a young age, the trauma that I had I was never really aware of, it was never discussed.

“I didn’t really talk about it – and I suppressed it like most youngsters would have done – but when it all came fizzing out I was bouncing off the walls, I was like ‘what is going on here?’, I am now feeling everything as opposed to being numb.”

Prince Harry carries out a pre-flight check to his Apache helicopter in Camp Bastion, southern Afghanistan in this photograph taken December 12, 2012, and released January 21, 2013. The Prince, who is serving as a pilot/gunner with 662 Squadron Army Air Corps, is on a posting to Afghanistan that runs from September 2012  to January 2013.  Photograph taken December 12, 2012
Prince Harry in Afghanistan

Surprise appearance to launch series

The five-part docuseries project, which has been more than two years in the making, follows Invictus competitors from around the world as they prepare for the tournament, which was founded by Harry.

He made a surprise appearance to introduce the series during a special screening in California and is heard talking to the audience about the sacrifices that veterans and their families make while serving their country, in a video circulating on social media.

New Harry Netflix show a very different watch

I know what you’re thinking – Prince Harry on Netflix, here we go again.

But this is a very different watch.

This isn’t Harry on the Royal Family, or his crusade against the media. This is Harry on Invictus, a cause he cares about, and seems much more comfortable talking about.

There’s an interesting question in the first episode when Harry is asked: “What do you do?”

A long pause follows, because we all know Harry’s been busy. From explosive interviews to his anguished memoir, and more recently his appearance at the High Court.

Harry replies: “There’s a lot of hats one wears but today is all about Invictus.”

And that’s what this series really is about. Stories of service men and women, surviving and dealing with physical and mental injury. Their journeys helped and shaped by taking part in the Invictus Games.

We learn how this is a deeply personal project, stemming from his experiences in the army. How his time in Afghanistan triggered an “unravelling”, and brought back the trauma of losing his mother.

Harry isn’t the star of this show, it’s the veterans. But the Duke of Sussex and his name are clearly driving the Invictus work.

Harry fans will love it, as might those who loved ‘working royal’ Harry.

It does feel like a positive step forward for Harry, after a year which has produced much negativity.

Even Harry’s critics would agree, Invictus is a success story.

And if Harry is attempting to rebuild his brand, this show and the upcoming games in Dusseldorf are the perfect springboard.

This is also one Prince Harry programme the Royal Family, holidaying at Balmoral, could probably bear to watch.

In the opening episode, he says: “I’m Harry, a dad of two… couple of dogs, husband… there’s lots of hats one wears but today is all about Invictus.”

The duke, who is father to Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, also talks about never wanting to serve in the armed forces as a father.

“I’ve always had myself down as the dad that I could never be serving whilst having kids,” he said.

The duke was executive producer of the series, which forms part of his and his wife’s multimillion-pound deal with Netflix, and follows last year’s controversial Harry & Meghan documentary.

Heart of Invictus has been released in the run-up to next month’s Invictus Games in Dusseldorf, Germany, which the couple are both set to attend.

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‘My emotions were sprayed all over the wall’

In one clip from the series, while speaking to team Canada’s Invictus athlete Darrell Ling about the “demons” on the rower’s shoulder, Harry returns to the death of Princess Diana.

“I had no emotion, I was unable to cry, I was unable to feel,” he said.

“I didn’t know it at the time. It wasn’t until later in my life, aged 28 – there was a circumstance that happened – that the first few bubbles started coming out and then suddenly someone shook it and it was… chaos.

“My emotions were sprayed all over the wall, everywhere I went.

“How the hell do I contain this? I’ve gone from nothing to everything.

“I now need to get a glass jar and put myself in it, leave the lid open and my therapist said ‘you choose what comes in and everything else bounces off’.”


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