Prince Harry says it was "only right" to share his experience of coping with the death of his mother Princess Diana because he hopes to "encourage others to come forward and smash" the stigma surrounding mental health.
Diana died in a car crash in Paris at age 36 in 1997. Harry was 12 at the time. The prince, now 32, had said in a recent and rare, candid interview on a podcast released by The Telegraph newspaper that he shut down his emotions following her death and had "probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions" over the years as he dealt with his grief. Following persuasion from his brother Prince William to seek professional help, he finally sought counseling.
On Wednesday, Harry made his first appearance since the interview, opening the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Expo. The event's charity of the year is Heads Together. Harry, William and wife Kate Middleton have long spearheaded the group's campaign to end the stigma around mental health. At the event, Harry reflected on his decision to speak openly about turning to therapy.
"I've shared, just as much as everybody else has during this campaign," he told reporters. "And after how many years of listening to stories from veterans and their families and then specifically in this campaign, William, Catherine and I hearing some of the most heart-wrenching stories based around what people have experienced and then the mental anguish that's happened from then, it was only right to share my experiences to hope to encourage others to come forward and smash that stigma, to make it easier for them to talk about their own experiences. So I was just doing my bit."
"When you've heard so many stories from so many other people and if you can relate to that then it's only right that you talk about your own experiences," Harry added.
August 31st will mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, who was known as the "People's Princess" and for her own charity work around the world. It was announced this past January that a statue of the Princess of Wales is set to be erected on the grounds of Kensington Palace, at the request of Harry and William.
"It has been 20 years since our mother's death and the time is right to recognize her positive impact in the U.K. and around the world with a permanent statue," William and Harry said in a statement released by Kensington Palace. "Our mother touched so many lives. We hope the statue will help all those who visit when it will be unveiled. It is hoped that this will occur before the end of 2017."