Prince Harry says he sought counselling while struggling to come to terms with Princess Diana's death

Robert Jobson

Prince Harry has revealed he sought counselling in his late 20s after enduring two years of “total chaos” while still struggling to come to terms with the death of Princess Diana.

Harry says he “shut down all his emotions” for almost two decades after losing his mother, despite Prince William trying to persuade him to seek help.

The prince made the revelation in an interview with The Telegraph newspaper.

Revealing he has spoken to a professional about his mental health, Harry said he only began to address his grief when he was 28.

He said the tipping point was he felt “on the verge of punching someone” and facing anxiety when he carried out royal engagements.

He described the “quite serious effect” losing Diana had on his personal and professional life.

Royals: Princess Diana with Prince Harry in London, August 1995 (REUTERS)

Harry told the Telegraph that living in the public eye left him feeling he could be “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions”.

Harry, now 32, turned to professional counsellors and even took up boxing.

He says he is now in “a good place”.

Harry has decided to make the disclosure in the hope it will encourage people to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

He has spoken to Telegraph journalist Bryony Gordon for the first episode of her podcast, "Mad World", in which she will interview high-profile guests about their mental health experiences.

The 30-minute conversation is one of the most candid insights into the innermost thoughts of a modern young member of the Royal family.

Harry along with Prince William and sister-in-law, Kate, have established Heads Together, a charity which promotes good mental health and open discussion about it.

Harry, who was just 12 when his mother died, says in the podcast that he spent his teenage years and twenties trying not to think about her.

“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he said.

“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.”

Asked whether he had been to see a 'shrink' to offload his thoughts, he said: “I’ve done that a couple of times, more than a couple of times, but it’s great.”

Harry admitted that at times he had struggled with aggression and turned to boxing as an outlet for his frustration.

“During those years I took up boxing, because everyone was saying boxing is good for you and it’s a really good way of letting out aggression,” he said.

“And that really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone, so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier.”

He eventually sought support with the encouragement of his brother and others close to him, who told him: “Look, you really need to deal with this. It is not normal to think that nothing has affected you.”

Since learning to talk honestly about his feelings, he said, he now feels able to put “blood, sweat and tears” into making a difference for others.

“The experience I have had is that once you start talking about it, you realise that actually you’re part of quite a big club,” he said.

Later this year, the Prince and the Duke will commemorate the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death, commissioning a statue and presenting awards in her name to honour “kindness, compassion and service”.

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