LONDON (ABC News) — Prince Harry said he regrets not discussing the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, earlier in his life.
“You know, I really regret not ever talking about it,” Harry, 31, told soccer player Rio Ferdinand at a barbecue he hosted at Kensington Palace for his “Heads Together” mental health initiative.
Prince Harry was just 12 years old in 1997 when he lost his mom, who died in a tragic car accident at the age of 36. Diana also left behind Harry’s older brother Prince William, who was 15 at the time.
Ferdinand lost his wife to cancer last year and spoke to Harry about the challenges of her death and how it might affect his kids.
“He’s gone through different stages in his life that my kids are going to be going towards,” Ferdinand said of Prince Harry. “So to get some of his experiences is very rewarding for me and very educational in many ways.”
Harry admitted it was only in the last three years that he has been comfortable opening up about his mother’s death. He told the BBC Monday that it is critical for people to discuss life’s challenges to help them get past life’s adversities.
“It is OK to suffer, but as long as you talk about it. It is not a weakness,” Harry said. “Weakness is having a problem and not recognizing it and not solving that problem.”
Harry’s comments came on the same day the fifth-in-line to the British throne released a new video for “Heads Together,” the mental health campaign he formed and spearheads with his brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince Harry & sports stars discuss their struggles & support at a Heads Together BBQ. This is what they had to say.https://t.co/DX9suCtr8D
— Heads Together (@heads_together) July 25, 2016
The campaign brings leading mental health charities together to tackle often unspoken and taboo subjects that people are afraid to discuss, and encourages people to speak up about mental health.
Harry reminded people that anyone can suffer from mental health issues, even sports stars and members of the royal family.
“It is very easy for someone to look at someone like Rio Ferdinand and say, ‘You get paid all the money in the world, you are a successful footballer, you have fast cars,'” Harry told the BBC. “But at the end of the day his wife was snatched from him at an early stage of his life with her. So of course he is going to suffer, it doesn’t matter if he has an amazing job.”
Harry’s charitable focus over the next year centers on mental health awareness as well as raising awareness for HIV/AIDS, a cause also championed by his mother.