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11 Most Poignant Quotes From Prince Harry's Armchair Expert Episode On Mental Health

“I want to break cycle of pain for my children.”

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA: In this image released on May 2, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex speaks onstage during Global Citizen VAX LIVE: The Concert To Reunite The World at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Global Citizen VAX LIVE: The Concert To Reunite The World will be broadcast on May 8, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen VAX LIVE)
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It's been a tough year for Prince Harry. It was just last year that the Duke revealed that he and Meghan Markle would be stepping back from senior royal duties; the Oprah interview with his pregnant wife, Meghan Markle, subjected the couple to new levels of scrutiny, criticism and trolling; and he also lost his grandfather, Prince Philip. In a new interview with Dax Shephard and Monica Padman on the Armchair Expert podcast, he has opened up about how he wants to "break the cycle" of the "pain and suffering" of his upbringing with his own children.

Prince Harry has long been an advocate for discussing and improving access to mental health. He’s previously been very open about his own struggles with mental health, formed the Head’s Together campaign alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to join mental health charities together in the UK, and, most recently, announced he was teaming up with Oprah Winfrey for a new AppleTV+ docuseries featuring mental health discussions with A-list celebrities. Keep reading for the most poignant quotes from Prince Harry’s emotional Armchair Expert appearance.

On growing up in the royal spotlight

Prince Harry described his early life in the spotlight to podcast host Dax Shepherd as a “mixture between The Truman Show and being in a zoo”.

“It's the job right? Grin and bear it. Get on with it,” he explained. “I was in my early 20s, and I was thinking I don't want this job, I don't want to be here. I don't want to be doing this. Look what it did to my mum. How am I ever going to settle down and have a wife and family, when I know it's going to happen again?”

“I've seen behind the curtain, I've seen the business model and seen how this whole thing works and I don't want to be part of this,” he added.

On losing his mother, Diana, at a young age

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Prince Harry described the “immense impact” his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had on him before her untimely death in 1997, when Harry was just 12 years old. “The massive immense impact that she had on us in the short time she was around was huge, because all she wanted to do was make sure we had as normal a life as possible.”

Harry also revealed that in therapy he had realised he did not want to lose a feeling that made him feel so connected to his mother. “Little did I know, it’s adrenaline,” he said.

The prince also described memories from around the time of his mother’s death when the adults around him, who arguably didn’t know how to handle a young prince who’d lost his mother, told him he “needed help”, a phrase the people around him used when they didn’t know how to deal with his pain. “Rule number one is when you actually feel as though someone needs help,” he said, “telling them to their face ‘you need help’ is probably the best way for them to go ‘Errrr, no I don’t. Object. Run away.’”

On becoming a father

The 36-year-old prince also touched on the idea of inherited trauma with host Shepherd, explaining that he hoped to “break the cycle” for his two-year-old son Archie and future daughter.

He told host Dax Shepard: “I don't think we should be pointing the finger or blaming anybody, but certainly when it comes to parenting, if I've experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I'm going to make sure I break that cycle so that I don't pass it on, basically.

“It's a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway so we as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say, ‘You know what, that happened to me, I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to you.’”

On feeling helpless

Prince Harry explained that feeling helpless was his “Achilles heel” in terms of his mental health, going on to describe three defining moments in his life when he felt utter helplessness.

“One, when I was a kid in the back of the car with my mom being chased by paparazzi, two was in Afghanistan in an Apache helicopter and then the third one was with my wife. And those were the moments in my life where, yeah, feeling helpless hurts. It really hurts, and that’s when you think to yourself, ‘S***, like, I got the privilege. I got the platform. I got the influence, and even I can’t fix this. I can’t change this.’”

On seeking out therapy

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The Duke of Sussex revealed that despite some internal work in previous years, it took a conversation with Meghan for him to decide to invest in therapy.

“It was a conversation that I had with my now-wife,” he revealed. “She saw it. She saw it straight away. She could tell that I was hurting and that some of the stuff that was out of my control was making me really angry. It would make my blood boil.”

On his position of privilege

In terms of his background and childhood, Prince Harry placed himself and Oprah Winfrey (who will co-host their upcoming Apple TV+ series) at opposite ends of the privilege spectrum. But despite his privilege he explains that mental health and trauma transcends backgrounds.

“In certain corners of the media it’s like, ‘you’re privileged, how on earth could you be suffering’,” he explained. “Luckily, because it has been part of my own growth, I have spent many many years travelling around the world and seeing how other people suffer, and being able to have that empathy for them, and put myself in their shoes. That was the education I had. So yes, I was born into this privilege, but this privilege also gave me a front-row seat to all this suffering.”

On discovering tools to help mental health

Describing the incredible impact the Invictus Games had on wounded servicemen and women, he realised that “helping other people heals me.”

“When you have suffered, you don’t want others to suffer,” he explained. “If helping other people helps you get the fix that you need, then happy days.”

The Duke – who revealed that boxing helped him release a lot of built up tension in the past – explained that everybody deals with trauma in different ways, but that it was crucial for each person to understand how to release it.

“You may think that mentally, ‘I’m fine’ but your body is holding on to that,” he said. “You have to listen to your body, otherwise you’ve just got your head in the sand. Cortisol and adrenaline is giving you extra energy, it feels like fuel – but that’s when burnout happens. You know it isn’t normal, but you ignore it because you can get s*** done. Then eventually it hits you, because fight or flight is not sustainable.

On understanding unconscious bias

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One of the main revelations to come out of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey were the allegations of racism within The Firm. In the Armchair Expert podcast, Harry explained that whilst he has done a lot of work into understanding the unconscious biases that certain communities have to deal with on a daily basis, the work is never quite done.

“I thought I understood life, especially bearing in mind most of the countries I was going to and the communities I was going to were people of colour. I had to uncover and understand more about unconscious bias. I thought since I screwed up when I was younger and then did the work, I thought I then knew but I didn't. And I still don't fully know. It's a constant work in progress and every single one of us has it.”

On developing self awareness

The prince credited self awareness with being the driving force behind learning to make changes to support his, and others’, mental health.

“To me it’s always so fascinating to hear of someone’s struggles and for them to be able to explain or articulate why, but then also tracing it back to what happened to you – not what’s wrong with you.”

“It's hard to do but for me it comes down to awareness,” he added, before explaining the revelation in reference to his father, Prince Charles. “Suddenly I started to piece it together and go ‘okay, so this is where he went to school, this is what happened, I know this about his life, I also know that is connected to his parents so that means he's treated me the way he was treated, so how can I change that for my own kids?’”

On embracing compassion

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Harry explained that, as hard as it is to do, sometimes we need to look at the reasons why someone is behaving in a certain way, to understand why they’re acting out or behaving badly towards others.

“Hatred is a form of projection – we’re not born to hate people,” he told podcast host Dax Shepard. “It manifests itself over a period of time and it comes from a place of unresolved pain– ultimately, there’s a source for it. There’s a reason you want to hate somebody else. When it comes to trolling on social media I take a moment to look at it and say, okay, this is how it’s making me feel, but I flip it and say, okay, how’s your day going? What happened to you? And actually have some compassion for them. Which is hard when you’re on the receiving end of some vile, toxic abuse; but I try and think, what’s your goal? What made you come at me?”

On moving to the US

Talking about life in Los Angeles, California, Prince Harry said that his family's move to the US had not been part of the plan but “sometimes you've got to make decisions and put your family first and put your mental health first”.

“Living [in Santa Barbara] now I can actually lift my head and I feel different, my shoulders have dropped, so have [Meghan’s], you can walk around feeling a little bit more free, I can take Archie on the back of my bicycle, I would never have had the chance to do that [in the UK].”