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Prince William talks about ‘taboo’ of mental illness and death of Diana in new interview

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Britain’s Prince William shakes hands with Chelsea team manager Antonio Conte at the Wembley stadium in London, Saturday.

As the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales approaches, her son Prince William has opened up to British GQ about the loss.

“I would like to have had her advice,” William told the magazine. “I would love her to have met Catherine and to have seen the children grow up. It makes me sad that she won’t, that they will never know her.”

The prince was just 15 when his mother was killed in a high-speed car crash on Aug. 31, 1997, and he and younger brother Harry were left to deal with their grief under great public scrutiny.

While Prince William has of late found the words to speak publicly about his mother, the journey to that place has not always been easy.

“It has taken me almost 20 years to get to that stage,” William said. “I still find it difficult now because at the time it was so raw. And also it is not like most people’s grief, because everyone else knows about it, everyone knows the story, everyone knows her.”

It may have taken years, but William and Harry have found a way to honor their mother in a fashion that she would likely greatly appreciate: charitable work.

Known as the “People’s Princess,” Diana was a tireless advocate for those in need and worked to destigmatize AIDS in the 1980s, to fight the use of landmines and to better the lives of the underprivileged.

In the last year, William and his brother, alongside William’s wife, Kate, have expanded their involvement in Heads Together, a mental health campaign led by the Royal Foundation, which aims to start a productive conversation about the reality of mental illness.

“Smashing the taboo is our biggest aim. We cannot go anywhere much until that is done. People can’t access services till they feel less ashamed, so we must tackle the taboo, the stigma,” William said.

The Heads Together campaign has sparked several headlines for the royal family in recent months.

In April, Prince Harry admitted that the death of his mother left him “very close to a complete breakdown” for which he finally sought professional help three years ago.

“The experience that I’ve had is once you start talking about (mental health), you suddenly realized, actually, you’re part of a big club … and everybody’s gagging to talk about it,” Harry said during the “Mad World” podcast with Bryony Gordon.

The GQ interview is not the only conversation that Prince William has had recently about mental health, either. He participated in a highly publicized FaceTime chat with Lady Gaga on the matter.

In the interview, Prince William acknowledged that his public persona might suggest otherwise, but privately, he is impassioned about the issue.

“I cannot understand how families, even behind closed doors, still find it so hard to talk about it. I am shocked we are so worried about saying anything about the true feelings we have,” the prince said.

Prince William’s full interview with British GQ is available in its July issue, on newsstands June 1.

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