Prince Harry has once again spoken of his mother’s death, telling Robin Williams’ son Zak that they both shared the strange experience of grieving a famous parent less demonstrably than their parent’s fans.
Harry’s remarks came in a follow-up episode of his mental health documentary series with Oprah Winfrey which screened on Apple TV+ last week. Zak Williams, who is a mental health campaigner and in recovery from addiction, was one of the contributors to the original show and came back for the new episode which followed a town hall structure.
After Williams told Harry how having to grieve so publicly left him feeling vulnerable, Harry said, “We have a lot of shared experience. When you talk about that… when you see so many people around the world grieving for someone… You feel as though they knew them better than you did, in a weird way, because you’re unable to grieve yourself.”
Another celebrity guest on the original show, Glenn Close, also appeared on the new installment. Close said that her family were so ashamed of their history of mental illness that they covered it up, and added that she herself felt shame for not realizing her sister was having suicidal urges.
Harry had spoken of his own shame about feeling he had not adequately supported his wife Meghan when she was suicidal on a previous episode, and he returned to the theme, saying: “There’s an element of shame that we feel because we’re like, ‘How could we have not have seen it? How could we not know? How did you not feel comfortable enough to share that with me?’ But we all know that when people are suffering or struggling, that we’re all incredibly good at covering it up.”
Speaking about suggested helpful ways to speak to a suicidal person, Harry said, “So many people are afraid [to have] that conversation because they don’t feel like they have the right tools to give the right advice. But what you want to say is that you are there. Because listening and being part of that conversation is without doubt the best first step that you can take.”
Harry opened up the bonus episode by saying that he believes climate change and mental health are the two biggest challenges of our time, and that they are linked.
“The connecting line is about our collective well-being and when our collective well-being erodes, that affects our ability to be caretakers of ourselves, of our communities, and of our planet ultimately.
“We have to create a more supportive culture for each other where challenges don’t have to live in the dark, where vulnerability is healthy and encouraged and, of course, where physical and mental health can be treated equally because they are one.”
Harry also renewed his criticisms of the effects of social media on children, saying, “I get the real feeling that so many parents don’t feel equipped to be able to deal with these problems because so many people think there is ‘mental illness’ and then there is ‘everything else.’ And that ‘everything else’ is the day-to-day stresses or the anxieties of, whether it’s gaming, whether it’s social media, whether it’s isolation in front of the screen... all this kind of stuff. How can we collectively as a society prepare and make parents feel more comfortable and better equipped to be able to deal with the daily stresses or the daily unknowings of what your children are going through growing up in this world that we have allowed to be created, and which I believe is making us sicker.”