Prince Harry and Robin Williams' Son Zak Reflect on Grief After Losing Parents in Public Eye

In A Path Forward, Prince Harry and Zak Williams bond over their experience of losing a parent during a candid conversation about death and grief.

By Mike Vulpo May 28, 2021 5:22 PMTags
Watch: Prince Harry's Struggle With Grief After Princess Diana's Death

Born worlds—and a whole ocean—apart, Prince Harry and actor Zak Williams are far more similar than they are different.

As pop culture followers know, the Duke of Sussex was forced to grieve the passing of his mother Princess Diana at just 12 years old. As for Zak, he experienced the sudden death of his father Robin Williams when he was 31.

Ultimately, both public figures have had to endure the loss of a parent under the spotlight. Their experiences resulted in a candid conversation about grief and healing on Apple TV+'s The Me You Can't See: A Path Forward.

"For my end, it was hard to really separate, initially, the process of privately grieving versus sharing the grieving with the general public, both the American public and the world, and I had trouble differentiating that grieving process at first and it was really challenging for me," Zak explained to Harry. "I found myself extremely emotionally dysregulated and feeling vulnerable and exposed when I wasn't ready to be vulnerable. And that created a major challenge for me."

From Zak's perspective, he didn't get a chance to really focus on his private grieving process until a year and a half after his father died.

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"I'm very thankful and appreciative that I did recognize how to set boundaries," he shared. "I hope they're healthy boundaries, around, you know, grieving personally versus grieving as a community, grieving with the public, grieving with the world. You know, I needed that and I didn't necessarily pick up on it initially."

Chris Jackson/Getty Images; Kimberly White/Getty Images

Back in August 2014, news broke that Robin passed away at his home in Tiburon, Calif. According to his rep, the actor and comedian had been battling severe depression. 

Harry, who lost his mom in 1997 during a violent car crash, revealed that he also struggled with watching millions of strangers mourn the loss of his mom.

"I think we have a lot of shared experience when you talk about that as, when you see so many people around the world grieving for someone they feel as though they knew them better than you did, you know, in a weird way because you're unable to grieve yourself," he shared. "It's like, ‘How are you showing more, sort of, how are you grieving more for someone who was my parent and I'm unable to grieve myself?'"

Today, both Zak and Harry are using their platforms to raise awareness about mental health. And while Harry has been able to meet many public figures in his lifetime, the royal family member expressed how honored he was to meet the son of a "real hero of mine."

"I wish your dad was around to see what a remarkable man that you've grown into," Harry shared. "Like, the way that you speak, the way that you were at that crossroads in your life or the T-junction in your life when you could've gone left and carried on doing what you were doing…I think that is, it's remarkable."

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