Mental health struggles do not discriminate. Everyone fights their own battles at one point or another, and Prince Harry just proved he’s not an exception to that experience. The Duke of Sussex opened up to a crowd of thousands during the Invictus Games closing ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 27 and talked about how he has struggled with mental health following the tragic death of his mother, Princess Diana.
The Duke, 34, began his speech by applauding the athletes for their “example of determination, of optimism, of strength, honor, and friendship,” describing it as “a core value that has the power to inspire.” But it didn’t take long before the dad-to-be got candid and preached that the beginning step to recovering is to accept that mental health needs to be addressed.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 27, 2018
“Nowhere is that truer than in the area of mental health,” Harry said while getting emotional. “By simply being here and fighting back from some of the darkest experiences known to anyone, you have become role models for everyone at home or in the stands who might be struggling with their emotions or with a mental illness… You are showing it’s okay not to be okay. And most importantly, you are showing us all that it’s okay to ask for help… Our competitors have helped turn the issue of mental health from a sad story to an inspiring one. They want to live rather than just be alive.”
Harry opening up about the importance of mental health was so moving that people in the crowd could be seen with tears filling their eyes. “I’ve been there, you’ve been there, and we now need to reach out to those who can never even imagine themselves in that place,” he encouraged. “When you accept a challenge is real, you can have hope. When you understand your vulnerability, you can become strong. When you are brave enough to ask for help, you can be lifted up.”
In the past, Harry has said his own mental health struggles came after the tragedy of losing his mother, Princess Diana, at such a young age. “I can safely say that losing my mom at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” Harry previously admitted to The Telegraph, according to People. “It was 20 years of not thinking about it, and two years of total chaos.”
During their current royal tour, Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, also emphasized a comparable message to her husband’s while also honoring him for creating such a powerful and inspiring event. “It’s such an honor to be here tonight with all of you and supporting my husband at the Invictus Games, which he founded four years ago,” the Duchess, 37, said. “In a short span of time, the games have evolved into an international platform of some of the best athletics and sportsmanship you could ever witness.”
The Invictus Games is an international Paralympics-style competition where wounded, injured, or sick veterans can compete in sporting events such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing. Harry, who previously served in Afghanistan, founded the Invictus Games in 2014 to honor veterans and wounded service members around the world.
Join our Facebook group for the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, and all things royal!