Prince Harry has been a mental health advocate for years, but in his first interview since he and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey, he really wanted to let Armchair Expert host Dax Shepard know that therapy works. In a May 13 episode of the podcast, Harry revealed that Markle first noticed he was “angry” and “hurting” and encouraged him to see a therapist. “She saw it straight away,” he noted. And it's clear he is definitely seeing things from a new perspective.
According to Harry, living as a royal was “a mix between The Truman Show and being in a zoo.” But once he got professional help, he said that he really noticed a difference. “Once I started doing therapy, it was like the bubble was burst,” Harry told Shepard. “I plucked my head out of the sand and gave it a good shake-off, and I was like, ‘You’re in this position of privilege. Stop complaining and stop thinking you want something different — make this different — because you can't get out. How are you going to do these things differently? How are you going to make your mum proud and use this platform to really affect change?’”
The rest of the episode further clarifies that yes, Harry is definitely seeing a therapist — and a pretty good one, at that, it seems. In fact, listening to some of his insight throughout the interview actually feels a bit like getting a free session. At one point, for example, he describes the importance of taking breaks and channeling your energy into a specific moment or task at hand. “That’s what I’ve been working on for years, for the last five years, and it started in therapy,” he said. Learning to “find that balance of being able to switch it on and switch it off” helped him get to a place of “consciousness, awareness, strength of mind, [and] mental fitness.”
Harry, who served in the British Army for 10 years, also shared his thoughts on the number of veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Most of them — most of us — suffer from post-traumatic stress injury, right? It’s an injury, it’s something that you can heal from,” he explained. “Otherwise, you’re just saying to someone, ‘Okay, I’m diagnosing you with PTSD, you’ve got a disorder for the rest of your life, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
He added that many recruited veterans also grew up dealing with grief and childhood trauma. Seeing violence can be a “trigger,” but Harry emphasized there’s a misconception that vets are solely traumatized from the events of war, when really, that trauma is just “the lid” on top of years of pain and repression.
Since marrying into the family, Markle was subjected to relentless, often racist, attacks and scrutiny. Harry opened up about how difficult this was to watch, especially since his mother, Princess Diana, was “commoditized” in a similar way, and also forced to silently struggle with her mental health. In 2020, Harry and Markle announced that they would be stepping back from their royal duties, working to become financially independent, and splitting their time between the U.K. and the U.S.
“I was in my early twenties and I was thinking, ‘I don’t want this job, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be doing this,’” Harry told Shepard. “Look what it did to my mum. How am I ever going to settle down and have a wife and family when I know it’s going to happen again?”
Harry has spoken up about going to therapy before, but this is one of the first times he has so specifically and eloquently reflected on his struggles, thoughts, and healing process. Maybe it’s therapy, or maybe it’s his newfound freedom from the Crown — either way, it’s cathartic to hear such a public-facing person talk about entering a place of consciousness and strength of mind.