In a new ITV documentary, Prince Harry in Africa, the 32-year-old opened up about losing his mom when he was just 12. Having spent his young adulthood without her, Harry admitted he “buried” his feelings over the 1997 car accident in Paris that took Diana’s life at a young age.
“I’d never really dealt with what had actually happened, so there was a lot of buried emotion and, for a huge part of my life, I just didn’t even want to think about it,” he said.
Harry, who has since traveled the world to help those suffering from HIV and AIDS, added that doing the “unfinished work my mother never completed” has helped with deal with his grief.
“I now view life differently from what it used to be,” he shared. “I used to bury my head in the sand, and let everything around you tear you to pieces. I was fighting the system, going, ‘I don’t want to be this person.'”
“My mother died when I was very, very young and I don’t want to be in the position,” he continued. “Now I’m so energized, fired up, to be lucky enough to be in a position to make a difference.”
Harry now spearheads Sentebale, a Lesotho-based charity co-founded by Diana that focuses on preventing and destigmatizing AIDS. Recently, the British royal visited the Caribbean and took a live HIV test with Rihanna to raise awareness about World AIDS Day.
“All I want to do is make my mother incredibly proud,” he told People earlier this year. “When she died, there was a gaping hole, not just for us but also for a huge amount of people across the world. If I can try and fill a very small part of that, then job done. I will have to, in a good way, spend the rest of my life trying to fill that void as much as possible. And so will [Prince] William.”