Friday 24 November 2017

Prince Harry's come a long way, from party prince to promoter of mental health

Prince Harry arrives to attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London.
Prince Harry arrives to attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London.

Sally Wardle

Prince Harry has made headlines after revealing his struggle to come to terms with his mother's death.

But his interview, praised for opening up the conversation on mental health, is far removed from the days when he hit the front pages as the party prince.

Speaking candidly about how he sought counselling to overcome grief in his late 20s, the prince gave a rare glimpse into how he was forced to grapple with his problems while in the spotlight.

Harry was just 12 years old when Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Images of the young prince, walking bravely behind the horse-drawn gun carriage transporting his mother's body through the streets, were etched in the public's memory.

Harry founded his charity Sentebale in 2006 in honour of Diana to help disadvantaged children in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho, and during a tour of the region with his brother four years later, he spoke movingly about his mother.

"Every day, I know I do and I'm sure William does as well, whatever we do, wherever we are and whoever we're with I particularly always wonder what she'd think, what she'd be doing if she was with us now," the prince said.

While clearly inspired by Diana's charity work, Harry became embroiled in a series of scandals which saw him branded as a potential liability to the Royal Family's reputation.

As a young adult, he brawled with a paparazzi photographer, dabbled with cannabis and sparked worldwide outrage by dressing up as a Nazi for a fancy dress party.

And in 2012, ahead of a tour of duty to Afghanistan, a raucous road trip ended with photos being printed around the world of the naked prince frolicking with a woman in his hotel room during a game of strip billiards.

But in more recent years, Harry established himself as a senior royal.

Alongside his work on the Invictus Games - a Paralympic-style competition for injured servicemen and women which he founded in 2014 - Harry has become a vocal campaigner for mental health.

Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are spearheading the Heads Together campaign, the London Marathon's charity of the year, which aims to get the nation talking about their psychological problems and listening to those in need.

Harry's decision to share his own experience of mental health issues has earned him widespread praise and provided further evidence of his transition from the party prince to a royal asset.

Press Association

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