Tragic Details About Prince Harry

People may not be able to call him "His Royal Highness" anymore, but Prince Harry still royally owns many hearts. Part of the reason he's so lovable is his joking nature and ability to relate to "commoners" in a genuine way. He has a charming smile, but there is real pain behind his eyes. Tragedies are part of royal history, from the death of King Edward VI (the reason why Queen Elizabeth has reigned since the age of 25) to the miscarriages her granddaughter Zara Tindell has suffered, to Princess Diana's untimely death at just 36 years old

For various reasons, Harry has experienced his own fair share of misfortune in just 35 short years. Some of the heartbreak is completely out of his control and some of his pain is of his own making. After all, even scandals from college days can cause life-long damage when you're a royal. So, let's take a look at the tragic life of Prince Harry.

Princess Diana's tragic death changed Prince Harry's life forever

On August 31, 1997 injuries from a car crash killed Prince Harry's mother, Princess Diana. Many factors are presumed to be involved in the crash, including the speed of driver Henri Paul.The paparazzi was also involved in the crash, as photographers were chasing a car holding Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, Paul, and a bodyguard. Three photographers were "symbolically" charged one Euro (per the Los Angeles Times) for their part, but no symbolic charges can replace a mother.

"I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people that chased her into the tunnel were the same people that were taking photographs of her while she was still dying on the backseat of the car," Harry said in the 2017 BBC documentary Diana, 7 Days (via CNN).

That year, he spoke to Newsweek about enduring his mother's funeral. "My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television," Harry told the outlet, adding, "I don't think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances." He only started speaking out about the effects that losing his mother as a young royal has had on his life as an adult, but all you have to do is look at a picture of Harry on that day (above) to imagine his trauma.

Prince Harry took his parents' contentious divorce extremely hard

Roughly a year before Princess Diana's death, she and Prince Charles finalized their divorce. They were on civil terms by that time, Express reported. But the initial separation and majority of Charles and Diana's 15-year union was full of drama, including affairs on both sides, public wars in the press, Diana's struggle with bulimia, and Charles insisting that Queen Elizabeth strip Diana of the royal part of her title, Newsweek reported.

At age 11, Prince Harry wasn't as aware of the heartbreak within his parents' marriage as Prince William, and his reaction reportedly showed that. "Harry took it very badly, of course being younger than William, he was incredibly upset," Vanity Fair's royal correspondent Kate Nicholl said in the documentary William and Harry: Brothers in Arms (via Express).

In the 2017 ITV documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy (via Mirror) Harry revealed one of the worst parts of being a child of divorce. "There was the point where our parents split and... we never saw our mother enough or we never saw our father enough," he said, adding, "There was all that to contend with. I don't pretend we're the only people to have to deal with that, but it was an interesting way of growing up." He remembers the journey between houses vividly. "There was a lot of traveling and a lot of fights on the back seat with my brother, which I would win."

Why were Prince Harry and Prince William feuding?

News of a rift between Prince Harry and Prince William broke around the 2018 holidays. "Harry felt William wasn't rolling out the red carpet for Meghan [Markle] and told him so," an unnamed friend of the brothers told Vanity Fair. "They had a bit of a fall out which was only resolved when [Prince] Charles stepped in and asked William to make an effort." Eyes have since been on both couples, like the tabloid frenzy over William seemingly ignoring Meghan as she tried to talk to him during a walk.

Thereafter, Harry and William only seemed to be together on holidays. During family Easter in April 2019, People reported that they "kept their distance from one another." Relations warmed in May 2019 when Harry and Meghan's son Archie was born, but royal correspondent Kate Nicholl told ET that the brothers weren't speaking before his birth.

Tensions seemed high again in October 2019 when Harry admitted in the ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey that his relationship with William wasn't perfect. "This family being under the pressure that it's under, inevitably stuff happens," he said, adding, "We're on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him as I know he'll always be there for me." Since the admission, and the Sussexes' stepping down from royal duties, it's been a rollercoaster ride, but Harry reportedly began "leaning on" William again after his relocation to the U.S., according to US Weekly.

A controversial 'costume' landed Prince Harry in hot water

Prince Harry might be married to one of the first black members of the royal family, but in 2005 the 21-year-old royal faced backlash when The Sun (via BBC News) published pictures of him in a white supremacist costume at a private party. The costume clearly featured a swastika, a symbol of hatred commonly associated with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Harry released an official apology through The Clarence House press office. "I am very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize," the statement said (via CNN).

Perhaps because of his age, representatives of the Jewish faith in England were quick to forgive the young prince. "The fact that the palace has issued an apology indicates that this was a mistake by the prince," Rabbi Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain told CNN. "But having being [sic] given, the apology should now be accepted."

Other representatives of the faith around the world were not so forgiving. Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles told CNN it is "inexcusable for a member of the royal family to do that." Hier continued, "I think he should join the British delegation that is going to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of (the concentration camp) Auschwitz ... that would transmit to the world that he gets it."

What happened in Vegas ... made headlines for Harry

In 2012, TMZ published photos of 28-year old Prince Harry completely naked and covering his "crown jewels" in one photo, and pressed up against a naked woman in another. The pair was reportedly in a suite in Las Vegas, playing a game of strip pool. In an apparent attempt to distance royal association from the antics, an unnamed palace official confirmed Harry's identity and told CNN, "Prince Harry has been on a private holiday before he resumes his military duties."

Carrie Reichert, who was there (but not in the photos), said via Mirror "[Prince Harry and I] kissed, he was naked at the time, and pretty open....It wasn't romantic, just fun." She said Harry shouldn't be embarrassed by the photos because he is under a lot of pressure. "He was a gentleman, but he was so wasted." 

The incident did bring some embarrassment to the royals and is an extension of Harry's behavior as a teenager, when Prince Charles reportedly sent him to rehab for a day because of his apparent penchant for smoking pot, according to Hello. A senior royal official reportedly said at the time, "We acknowledge that on several occasions last summer, Prince Harry experimented with cannabis. It is not that he had or has a serious problem, but he did take the drug. Prince Harry did attend to Featherstone Lodge for a day to learn about the possible consequences of starting to take cannabis."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle waged war on the tabloids

Since Prince Harry's relationship with actress Meghan Markle became public, his relationship with the press has become more contentious. Harry released a statement in October 2019 announcing the couple's to sue several tabloid publications. "For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start," the statement read. "I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in."

As of this writing, Harry is reportedly suing "the owners of The Sun and the Daily Mirror" for "illegal interception of voicemail messages" (per The Guardian) as confirmed by Buckingham Palace. Meghan is separately suing Daily Mail for "alleged breach of privacy and copyright infringement over its decision to publish a private letter she had sent to her estranged father."

Harry's dislike for the press goes so deep that he has reportedly been trying to change the royal family's relationship with the press since before his relationship with Meghan became such an obsession. The couple's plan goes beyond court battles. "They are on a mission to redefine how the press operates," according to Vanity Fair. That includes putting press "embargo[s]" on personal news like when their son Archie met Archbishop Desmond Tutu and then sharing the news on their Instagram account. This has only added more tension to Prince Harry and Meghan's relationship with the media. 

Prince Harry fears Meghan Markle will suffer a tragic fate like Princess Diana

Prince Harry's problems with the press are deeper than any legal battle. He is scared to lose his wife or child in an accident like the one that killed his mother Princess Diana,  and he said so explicitly in the statement announcing the legal battle.

"My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person," the statement on the Sussex Official website reads. "I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces." He puts it all even more simply when he says, "There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour because it destroys people and destroys lives."

The toll that the media attention was taking on the couple is evident in the Tom Bradby film Harry & Meghan: An African Journey. The director called it the couple's "biggest struggle, rightly or wrongly." Speaking with Bradby, Megan admitted, "It's hard," adding that her British friends told her, "The British tabloids will destroy your life." 

"I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum," said Harry told Bradby. Less than a year after the film aired, Harry and Megan stepped down from royal duties and moved to America. Perhaps Meghan's friends were correct.

Some of Prince Harry's in-laws love telling stories in the press

Prince Harry may have a bigger fight on his hands than tabloids where his in-laws (on Meghan Markle's father's side) are concerned. One of the reasons the Sussexes are suing the press is for publishing a private letter that Meghan sent to her father, Thomas Markle, begging him to stop speaking to the press and telling lies about her instead of speaking to her personally. "Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces," Meghan's letter to her father reads according to The Sun. Of course, Thomas also famously pulled out of Harry and Meghan's wedding because of heart surgery (or embarrassment over getting caught colluding to sell the paparazzi photos related to the wedding), TMZ reported. The drama with Thomas reportedly "reduced both Meghan and Harry to tears," according to The Telegraph

Meghan's half sister Samantha Markle also seems to thrive on attention from the press. Even though she and Meghan reportedly don't have a relationship, she's threatened to write tell-all books about Meghan. She's also famous for her Twitter rants attacking Meghan's humanitarianism (and was suspended from the platform in 2019, though it's unclear why); According to The SunSamantha also once tweeted that Harry should've married his ex, Cressida Bonas, because "she is much more like Diana." With family like that... who needs family?

Being a royal has had a serious effect on Prince Harry's mental health

Prince Harry has become more and more vocal about the negative effects being royal has had on his mental health. On The Telegraph's podcast Mad World with Bryony Gordon, Harry said that being in the spotlight, losing his mother, serving in Afghanistan, and doing charity work to help soldiers who experienced trauma negatively affected him. "Anybody would look at that and go, 'OK, there must be something wrong with you, you can't be totally normal,'" he said, adding, "I sort of buried my head in the sand for many, many years."

Harry said he's been prone to "shutting down all of [his] emotions" since his mother died. He credits his brother Prince William with urging him to talk about his feelings with someone. "If you stay silent [mental health issues are] more likely to kill you," Prince Harry told Gordon. To normalize conversations about mental health and help others get treatment in the UK, Harry is an original founder of Heads Together with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Harry said that unloading his feelings on a professional therapist has made his weekends more enjoyable. He gave an example of the trauma he had been holding inside in the ITV documentary Diana, Our Mother (via Town & Country). "The first time I cried was at the funeral on the island, and...since then, maybe once," he said, adding, "There's a lot of grief that still needs to be let out."

Lasting love was elusive for Prince Harry for a long time

Prince Harry has fought some very hard battles with Meghan Markle by his side, but there was a point in his life when he thought he might never find a partner. In a 2013 televised interview recorded from his post in Afghanistan, he said about finding love, "You ain't ever going to find someone who's going to jump into the position that it would hold — simple as that," (via The New Yorker).

In 2017, actor Cressida Bonas, who was one of Prince Harry's most serious girlfriends, opened up to BBC 4's Woman's Hour about what it felt like to be "defined" by the man she was dating. "I think it's that thing of being pigeon-holed, especially in [England] I find that people are very quick to put you in a box or put you in a corner," Bonas said, adding, "It's incredibly frustrating." Thankfully, Harry's younger self was wrong, but Harry and Meghan fleeing the country and the royal family certainly supports Bonas' claims.

Prince Harry had to give up titles that matter to him deeply

When Prince Harry stepped down from his royal duties in March 2020, he also had to give up three military titles: Captain General of the Royal Marines, Honorary Air Force Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of the Royal Naval Commands' Small Ships and Diving. He's not permitted to hold these titles as they constitute "official duties," ITV reported. Harry has taken great pride in serving his country, his titles, and the work he's done for veterans, particularly founding The Invictus Games, which he will still run.

The Sun reported on the apparent sadness that Harry emanated at his last military event. He reportedly told Major General Matthew Holmes, head of the Royal Marines, "I am so proud to have served as the Royal Marines Captain and am devastated that I am having to step down ... I feel I'm letting people down, but I had no choice."

A source reportedly told The Sun, "[Serving in the military] creates a bond which you'd suspect Meghan may struggle to understand." The role of Captain-General of the Royal Marines might have been particularly hard for Harry to let go of because he took the position over from his grandfather Duke of Edinburgh who held the title for 64 years, according to ITV.

Did Megxit permanently damage Prince Harry's relationship with Queen Elizabeth?

Prince Harry's grandmother Queen Elizabeth has always had a special place in her heart for him. When Harry and Meghan Markle announced on Instagram that they wanted to "carve out a progressive new role" for themselves within the royal family and step down as senior members, they reportedly did so without consulting Queen Elizabeth and other family members.

The queen and other senior members of the royal family were reportedly "furious," according to Vanity Fair, which reported that she was particularly hurt because she had done all she could to appease Harry and his wife since their wedding in 2018. "He has dropped a bombshell and left the Queen to pick up the pieces. It has not been great for their relationship," an unnamed "confidant" of the queen told the outlet, adding, "What was once a very warm and jokey grandmother grandson rapport has dissipated."

Although Queen Elizabeth eventually issued a rare and official statement about the personal matter, in which she expressed support for Harry and Megan's decision, it's tough to imagine there isn't some lingering pain there. As important as it is for Harry to protect his family and keep them happy, there is something heartbreaking about the erosion of the relationship between the stoic queen and the jovial prince.