Prince William has spoken candidly about the death of his mother, Princess Diana, describing his bereavement as a “pain like no other pain”.
Diana, Britain’s former Princess of Wales, died in a Paris car accident in 1997 along with her driver, Henri Paul, and her lover at the time, Dodi al Fayed.
William, who is also known as the Duke of Cambridge, was 15 when the Princess died.
Her death sparked an unexpected outpouring of grief in Britain and around the world.
Over a million people lined London’s streets for her funeral procession, and it is estimated that nearly 2 billion people watched the funeral’s television broadcast worldwide.
The Prince’s comments were made as part of a BBC documentary on mental health, where he appeared alongside English soccer stars such as Peter Crouch, Thierry Henry and England’s team manager Gareth Southgate.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) May 17, 2019
He said losing a parent at a young age makes you “feel pain like no other pain”.
“It’s going to be very difficult to come across something that’s going to be even worse than that,” Prince William said.
The Prince also disclosed that his work as an air ambulance pilot triggered unwelcome feelings, as it made him feel that death was just “around the door”.
“You’re dealing with families who are having the worst news they could ever possibly have on a day-to-day basis — that’s quite a burden to carry and feel.
“[With] that raw emotion … I could feel it brewing up inside me and I could feel it was going to take its toll and be a real problem.”
He then explained that he later felt comfortable opening up about those feelings because it was something that all people relate to.
“We can all relate to mental health: We see it day-to-day all around us.
“We’ve just all got to go: Let’s talk about it. We’ve got to make that one bit of time to deal with it before moving on.”
The Duke is president of England’s Football Association (FA) and his comments coincide with the association’s “Heads Up” campaign, designed to encourage more men to talk about mental health.
In a statement released by the Royal household, the Duke said he hoped the program would place mental health on par with physical health:
“Over the last two years, we’ve been working behind the scenes to decide the best way to harness the power of football to change the way men think about mental health,” he said.
“Building on the amazing attitude that led England to the World Cup semi-finals, [Heads Up] will show us all that mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness.”
The Royal households of Cambridge (William and Kate) and Sussex (Harry and Meghan) have championed mental health literacy and mental health care through their initiative, Heads Together.
The program is developing an instant access text messaging services for people in need of immediate mental health care, while it has previously developed resources for primary school teachers and armed forces personnel.
The Prince also acknowledged that Britain’s cultural inclination to detach from emotions in times of stress — known as the stiff upper lip — should be “relaxed”.
“Particularly in Britain, we are nervous about our emotions,” he said.
“The British ‘stiff upper lip’ thing is great and we need to have that occasionally, but otherwise, we’ve got to relax a little bit and be able to talk about our emotions.”