Prince Harry Says Tour of Duty in Afghanistan Triggered 'Trauma' of Losing Princess Diana

Prince Harry said he experienced an "unraveling" after his military service in his new Netflix docuseries 'Heart of Invictus'

Prince Harry is getting candid about his time in the military.

Speaking in his Netflix docuseries Heart of Invictus, the Duke of Sussex opened up about how he experienced an "unraveling" after returning from his tour of duty in Afghanistan — and how that triggered the “trauma” of losing his mother, Princess Diana.

“I can only speak for my personal experience, my tour of Afghanistan in 2012 flying Apaches, somewhere after that there was an unraveling and the trigger to me was actually returning from Afghanistan,” the 38-year-old said.

"But the stuff that was coming up was from 1997, from the age of 12, losing my mum at such a young age, the trauma that I had I was never really aware of, it was never discussed.”

"I didn't really talk about it," Harry continued. "I suppressed it like most youngsters would have done — but then when it all came fizzing out I was bouncing off the walls, I was like, ‘What is going on here? I am now feeling everything as opposed to being numb.' "

<p>JOHN STILLWELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images</p> Prince Harry serving in Afghanistan in 2012


Prince Harry serving in Afghanistan in 2012

Related: Prince Harry Told Friends Car Chase Was 'Closest I Have Ever Felt' to Understanding How Princess Diana Died

The British Army veteran went on to discuss how his "biggest struggle" was that "no one around me could really help."

“I didn't have that support structure, that network or that expert advice to identify what was actually going on with me," he said.

"Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you really consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the fetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously, and that’s what I really want to change."

<p>Anwar Hussein/Getty</p> Prince William, Princess Diana and Prince Harry

Anwar Hussein/Getty

Prince William, Princess Diana and Prince Harry

Related: Prince Harry Slams 'Dangerous Lie' That He 'Boasted' About Number of People He Killed in War

The five-part docuseries, released on Wednesday, follows Invictus Games competitors — wounded, sick and injured servicemen and women — from around the world. The Invictus Games was founded by Harry, with the first Games taking place in March 2014.

The prince served in the military for 10 years and undertook two tours of Afghanistan. He first served in Helmand Province in 2007 and 2008, but his tour was abruptly cut short after a media outlet broke a news embargo and revealed his presence in the warzone. He later returned for a second tour in 2012.

Speaking in Heart of Invictus, Harry described how he was “angry” at being sent home but how he also knew it was important for “everyone’s safety.”

<p>John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images</p> Prince Harry at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan

John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan

He also discussed how his flight home affected him after he saw the air hospital onboard the plane.

“As we took off the curtain in front of me blew open and all you could see was the air hospital,” he said. “Three young British soldiers all wrapped in plastic and their bodies in pieces. I saw what only people had talked about.”

“That was the real trigger for I’m now seeing the real cost of war. Not just those individuals but also their families and what that would mean and how their lives would literally change forever.”

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Adding how the flight made him realize he needed to help, he continued, “At that point, it wasn’t clear to me what needed to be done. All I was trying to work out and try to navigate was, ‘OK, I’ve got this platform, I’ve just had this experience, what more can I do with this.’ ”

Harry has been very open about his mental health over the years and wrote about his experiences in his 2023 memoir, Spare.

Detailing his struggles in his book, he told PEOPLE in January, “This book and its truths are in many ways a continuation of my own mental health journey. It's a raw account of my life — the good, the bad and everything in between."

"My hope has been to turn my pain into purpose, so if sharing my experience makes a positive difference in someone's life, well, I can't think of anything more rewarding than that.”

Harry added of losing his mother, who died in a 1997 car crash in Paris, "I struggled for years to accept or even speak about my mother's death. I was unable to process that she was gone. I'm not sure anyone can ever truly have closure when they lose a parent, or anyone for that matter, especially when that grief may be the only thing left of them.”

"The healing process has allowed me to get to a place where I now feel the presence of my mum more than ever before. She's with me all the time — my guardian angel.”

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