While he has fond memories of his mother, the 32-year-old royal admits being made to walk in her funeral procession scarred him for life. Speaking with Newsweek, he says no one should ever have a 12-year-old attend a public memorial in front of millions of spectators.
“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,” he recalls. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.”
According to Harry, losing his mom at such a young age pushed him to “shut down” his emotions for nearly two decades. It was only when he was 28 — after years of drinking, smoking, and “total chaos” — when older brother Prince William encouraged him to change his lifestyle and seek professional help.
“My search began when I was in my mid-20s,” he says. “I needed to fix the mistakes I was making.”
“My mother died when I was very young. I didn’t want to be in the position I was in, but I eventually pulled my head out of the sand, started listening to people and decided to use my role for good. I am now fired up and energized and love charity stuff, meeting people and making them laugh,” he continues. “I sometimes still feel I am living in a goldfish bowl, but I now manage it better. I still have a naughty streak too, which I enjoy and is how I relate to those individuals who have got themselves into trouble.”
Aside from carrying on his mother’s legacy through charity work, Harry hopes to maintain an an “ordinary life.” Living in a two-bedroom cottage on the Kensington Palace grounds, the prince strives to have some semblance of civilian life.
“My mother took a huge part in showing me an ordinary life, including taking me and my brother to see homeless people. Thank goodness I’m not completely cut off from reality. People would be amazed by the ordinary life William and I live. I do my own shopping,” Harry, who has been dating actress Meghan Markle since last fall, shares. “Sometimes, when I come away from the meat counter in my local supermarket, I worry someone will snap me with their phone. But I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too.”
He adds, “Even if I was king, I would do my own shopping.”
Harry’s casual attitude reflects the royal family’s attempt in “modernizing the British monarchy” in recent years. Though he is fifth in line to the throne, Harry hopes to be as involved as possible.
“We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people,” he explains. “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”