Prince Harry opens up about personal trauma as TV crew films him in therapy - 'I felt hunted'

·Royal Correspondent
·4 min read

Watch: Prince Harry Discusses Princess Diana’s Death in New Mental Health Series

Prince Harry has said flying into London felt like he was being hunted, as he allowed cameras to film him trying a new form of therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Harry said that he would feel tense or anxious when he landed in London, linking the city to what happened to his mother.

In the filmed session he said it would happen every time, saying it brought about a "hollow, empty feeling, almost nervousness, everything feels tense".

Asked what the negative thought he had about himself was at that time, he said: "It's being the hunted, being helpless, knowing you can’t do anything about it.

"There's no escape, no way out of this."

Harry tells his therapist he would rather feel "it’s only for a brief moment of time, living your life by truth so there’s nothing to be worried about".

He then crosses his arms, goes back to the negative thoughts and discovers the first time it happened was when he was a teenager because he had left the UK to go to Africa for two weeks to avoid the "fallout" after Diana's death.

Harry allowed the cameras into one of his sessions as he tried out the relatively new form of therapy EDMR. (Apple TV)
Harry allowed the cameras into one of his sessions as he tried out the relatively new form of therapy EDMR. (Apple TV)

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He said: "It was such a cure, I felt so free, it was a sense of escapism that I had never felt before.

"To come back to the UK knowing what I was going to be confronted with and couldn't get away from was scary."

He says the trauma is "geographical" and likens the form of treatment to "clearing [his] hard drive".

The result is "strength" and "calmness" instead, when he pictures the flight, he says. 

His therapist Dr Sandra Oakley explained EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is trauma informed, meaning the person guiding someone through it knows what has happened to them and is not just dealing with symptoms.

Dr Bruce Perry told the documentary EMDR pairs the cognitive recollection of the trauma with a powerful memory of being safe so that people can think about the event without having emotional distress.

It involves repetitive rhythmic activity like tapping across the body.

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Dr Oakley said EMDR is recommended for "deep trauma" like war trauma, but that most of the time they treat adults with adverse childhood experiences, that didn't get "stored correctly", so "you are treating a child even when you have a 50-year-old in the room". 

Harry told Associated Press that the techniques he has learned in therapy were used when he had to fly into London for his grandfather's funeral in April.

He said: "I was worried about it, I was afraid.

"It definitely made it a lot easier, but the heart still pounds."

Harry was in the UK for about two weeks when he had to return for Prince Philip's funeral on 17 April, but had to quarantine beforehand because of the coronavirus restrictions.

He stayed in Frogmore Cottage, the Windsor home given to him and Meghan by the Queen as a wedding present.

Harry's five-part documentary series, The Me You Can't See, arrived on Apple TV's streaming platform on 21 May, with the royal speaking about the death of his mother, how he had unresolved anger and his difficulties with the media.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11:  Prince Harry Sticking His Tongue Out Much To The Suprise Of His Mother, Princess Diana At Trooping The Colour With  Prince William, Lady Gabriella Windsor And Lady Rose Windsor Watching From The Balcony Of Buckingham Palace  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Harry with his mother on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour in 1988. (Getty)

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He compared the press attention around his relationship with Meghan to what happened to his mother, Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997 when she was being pursued by paparazzi in Paris.

Harry said: "My mother was chased to her death while in a relationship with someone that wasn’t white.

"And now look what’s happened.

"You want to talk about history repeating itself.

"They won’t stop until she dies."

Harry is next due to be in London in the summer, when he and his brother will unveil a statue to their mother Diana in the sunken garden of Kensington Palace on 1 July, which would have been her 60th birthday.

The Me You Can't See is available now on Apple TV.

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