Prince Harry says he 'unravelled' after tour of Afghanistan triggered trauma of losing his mum

By John Mercury August 30, 2023

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
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Prince Harry’s Heart of Invictus Netflix Doc

The duke said mental illness was a “dirty word” when he first joined the military and said 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 apposed to being numb.”

The five-part 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 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”.

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