Pain of Diana’s death pushed me to drink and drugs: Harry

23 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Pain of Diana’s death pushed me to drink and drugs: Harry

LONDON: Prince Harry said he abused alcohol to numb the pain of his mother Diana’s death in 1997, and accused the British royal family of neglecting him and his wife Meghan as she contemplated suicide, reports Reuters.

Harry, now 36, has spoken before about the trauma of losing Diana in a Paris car crash and then having to walk as a 12-year-old behind his mother’s coffin in her funeral cortege under the glare of the world’s media.

“I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling,” Harry told Oprah Winfrey in an Apple TV series about mental health.

“I would probably drink a week’s worth in one day on a Friday or a Saturday night and I would find myself drinking not because I was enjoying it but because I was trying to mask something,” he said.

Harry said the loss of his mother accentuated fears about his own wife Meghan when she grappled with suicidal thoughts, although he said the British royal family neglected them both.

Princess Diana died in 1997 at age 36 in a crash in Paris after the car in which she was traveling with her Egyptian-born boyfriend Dodi Fayed was chased by paparazzi. Harry was 12 years old.

“The thing that stopped her from seeing it through was how unfair it would be on me after everything that had happened to my mum and to now be put in a position of losing another woman in my life, with a baby inside of her, our baby,” he said.

“I felt completely helpless. I thought my family would help, but every single ask, request, warning, whatever it is, just got met with total silence or total neglect.”

Harry’s repeated public criticism of the British royal family, led by his 95-year-old grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and his 72-year-old father, Prince Charles, has created another public relations crisis for the monarchy. The queen has said she was saddened to learn of the experiences of Harry and Meghan.

She said that while recollections might differ, the royal family would also address issues around race that had been raised by the couple, who said one unnamed royal made a racist comment about their son Archie before he was born.

In the documentary, Harry spoke of walking behind Diana’s coffin through the streets of London with his brother William, father Prince Charles and uncle Charles Spencer.

“The thing I remember most was the sound of the horses’ hooves going along the Mall,” he said. “It was like I was outside of my body, just walking along, doing what was expected of me, showing one tenth of the emotion that everyone was showing.”

Years earlier, he recalled sitting in the back of his mother’s car while she, in tears, was pursued by photographers.

“One of the feelings that comes up for me always is the helplessness. Being a guy and being too young to help a woman, in this case your mother, and that happened every single day,” he said.

Harry said he buried his feelings, but drank heavily and suffered panic attacks and anxiety in his 20s, and still freaks out when he sees cameras.

“I was so angry with what happened to her (Diana) and the fact there was no justice at all… the same people that chased her through that tunnel photographed her dying on the back seat of that car,” he said.

“The clicking of cameras, and the flash of cameras makes my blood boil. It makes me angry. It takes me back to what happened to my mum, what I experienced as a kid.”

Even now, at age 36, he said that returning to London makes him feel tense and hunted.

Harry said he started serious therapy almost five years ago, when he met Meghan.

“I quickly established that if this relationship was going to work, I had to deal with my past,” he said. The couple married in May 2018.