Voices: The detail in the Harry and William revelations everyone is missing

In his forthcoming memoir Spare, Prince Harry claims Prince William attacked him during an argument at the younger brother’s Nottingham Cottage home in 2019. The first person the Duke of Sussex called after the physical fight was not his wife – who was the main subject of the brothers’ alleged squabble – but his therapist.

In an extract from the royal’s book, which is due for release on 10 January, Harry writes that his older brother grabbed him by the collar, ripped his necklace off and “knocked” him to the ground. The argument began when William allegedly called Meghan “difficult”, “rude” and “abrasive”, and escalated when Harry fell onto the dog’s bowl with the broken pieces cutting into his back.

After William left his brother’s home, looking “regretful” as Harry recalls, the duke writes that he didn’t immediately tell Meghan, but called his therapist after the altercation. It wasn’t until his wife noticed “scrapes and bruises” on his back that he told her of the attack.

Prince Harry is no stranger to therapy and it doesn’t come as a surprise that Harry would have his therapist on speed dial. Given the circumstances of his life, it’s baffling how he could ever live without one.

The royal’s foray into therapy is not unlike the 21.6 per cent of Americans who sought mental health treatment last year: anxiety issues, grief from losing a loved one, PTSD after serving in the military, and the stress of family dysfunction.

During his 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper on Sunday evening, Prince Harry revealed that he only cried once after Princess Diana’s death - when her coffin “actually went into the ground” – and that he later turned to experimental drugs to help him deal with his emotions.

Harry, who lost his mother when he was just 12 years old, was haunted by his inability to cry and would go to great lengths just to muster up a tear. Speaking to Anderson Cooper, the duke revealed he watched videos of the late Princess of Wales online in the hopes that they would make him cry, and turned to alcohol and experimental drugs – before eventually seeking therapy – to help him come to terms with his grief.

“I would never recommend people to do this recreationally. But doing it with the right people if you are suffering from a huge amount of loss, grief or trauma, then these things have a way of working as a medicine,” he said during Sunday evening’s televised interview.

“For me, they cleared the windscreen, the windshield, the misery of loss. They cleared away this idea that I had in my head that I needed to cry to prove to my mother that I missed her. When in fact, all she wanted was for me to be happy.”

While it’s unclear how often Prince Harry sought these therapy sessions – or when they stopped – the royal has said that it wasn’t until meeting Meghan that she encouraged him to see a therapist again.

In the Apple TV Plus series The Me You Can’t See, Harry recalled an argument that he and his now wife had during the early days of their relationship, admitting that he would risk losing “this woman who I could see spending the rest of my life with” if he did not go to therapy.

“I saw GPs, I saw doctors, I saw therapists, I saw alternative therapists. I saw all sorts of people, but it was meeting and being with Meghan,” he said. While he didn’t divulge what the argument was about, he added that Meghan suggested he needed to seek professional help after he “reverted back to 12-year-old Harry”.

“It was probably in my second session, my therapist turned to me and said, that sounds like you reverting to 12-year-old Harry,” he said. “I felt somewhat ashamed and defensive, like how dare you, you’re calling me a child? And she said I’m not calling you a child, I’m expressing sympathy and empathy for you and for what happened when you were a child. You never processed it, you were never allowed to talk about it, and all of a sudden now, it’s coming up in different ways as projection.”

Harry has been open about the trauma he’s experienced from his mother Diana’s sudden death. During his interview with Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan on Monday 9 January, he spoke about his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), another term for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“It was very much PTSI, more of an injury than a disorder,” he said. “I fully appreciate that for a lot of these guys and girls, not just in the military but across society as a whole, that people are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But I’ve tried to reframe it as much as possible to say it’s an injury because you can actually heal from it.”

Because of this, he’s sought out forms of therapy beyond your average leather couch session, such as EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. EDMR is a special form of psychotherapy that “enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences,” using a series of eye movements as part of the lengthy process of coming to terms with repressed traumatic experiences.

“EMDR is always something that I wanted to try and that was one of the varieties of different forms of healing or curing that I was willing to experiment with,” Harry said. “I never would have been open to that had I not put in the work and the therapy that I’ve done over the years.”

Prince Harry does EDMR therapy on The Me You Can’t See (Apple TV+)
Prince Harry does EDMR therapy on The Me You Can’t See (Apple TV+)

In a society where men are stigmatised for seeking mental health help, Prince Harry has shown time and time again his dedication towards healing, and using his platform to help men do the same.

In 2021, the percentage of adult women who received any mental health treatment within the year was significantly higher than the number of men. Among adults aged 18 to 44, 28.6 per cent of women received mental health treatment while 17.8 per cent of men sought therapy.

Of course, this is easier said than done when a majority of the population doesn’t have the same access to therapy as a royal does. While Prince Harry is an advocate for therapy, he could benefit from shifting his platform’s focus towards finding affordable mental health resources.

The average cost of a therapy session in the US ranges from $100 to $200 per session, according to a 2019 report from SimplePractice, but this can vary depending on the type of health insurance you have or the state you live in. Even still, roughly 30 million Americans had no health insurance in 2022, making access to therapy even more difficult.

Although the number of men seeking therapy has increased over the years, archaic ideas of masculinity have forced men to keep their emotions hidden. For decades, men have been told that expressing their feelings is a sign of weakness, and they should handle their emotions “like a man”.

This stigma makes it hard for men to admit when they need help, and could lead to even more serious mental health issues in the future. And in a family like Prince Harry’s – whose motto he claims is “never complain, never explain” – this stigma is just the norm.

Perhaps Prince William, who has championed himself as an advocate for mental health, should take a page out of his brother’s book.

This article was updated on 9 January 2023.