PUBLISHED: 08:22 EDT, 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:06 EDT, 18 April 2017
Prince William today admitted he was ’emotional’ and needed ‘a minute to calm myself down’ as he spoke about how grief over his mother’s death sparked his desire to campaign on mental health issues.
Speaking at the preview of a documentary on the issue, he admitted: ‘I have my own reasons for being involved in mental health – what happened to me and my mother when I was younger.’
In an impassioned off-the-cuff speech after the screening, he added: ‘I’m speechless actually. I’m quite emotional. So I am just going to take a minute to calm myself down.’
Prince William today admitted he was ’emotional’ and needed ‘a minute to calm down’ as he bravely spoke about how grief over his mother’s death sparked his desire to campaign on mental health issues
The Duke of Cambridge, pictured with presenter Nick Knowles, was speaking today at the screening of BBC documentary Mind over Marathon, which launches the corporation’s new season on mental health
He watched the documentary today at BBC Radio Theatre as part of an audience of broadcasting executives and the 10 runners who took part
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge poses with Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content (third from left) and runners who feature in the documentary
William, pictured with Diana in 1994, was just 15 when his mother died and said today that her death has inspired her to campaign
The Duke of Cambridge was speaking the same day as he called for the end of the ‘stiff upper lip’ culture, adding that for too long children have grown up feeling it was taboo or weak to talk about their emotions.
It is the day after his brother, Harry, gave a candid interview about his own battles, admitting he had two years of ‘total chaos’, often felt ‘on the verge of punching someone’ after failing to properly address his mother’s death.
Speaking during an interview that fired the issue to instant prominence, Prince Harry praised the support of his brother, William, for urging him to get help until he eventually saw a counsellor.
William today said it was important that more people talk about the subject as he spoke to an audience of executives and 10 runners who took part in the documentary Mind Over Marathon, which launches a new BBC season on mental health issues.
William today attended the screening of a show that follows ten people battling both their own physical and mental health issues on their journey to complete the London Marathon.
The show follows the trials and tribulations of those running 26 miles in the landmark event, which has this year chosen the royals’ Heads Together as its official charity.
The Duke of Cambridge, Kate and Harry were all seen warming up for filming of the show, in February.
Describing the show, aired at 9pm on Thursday, April 27, the BBC says: ‘Mental and physical health is closely linked, and taking up sport or exercise can benefit our psychological wellbeing – but this is no easy ride.
‘Presenter Nick Knowles is on a personal mission to get the runners across the finishing line, and is leading a team of running experts, nutritionists and psychiatrists.
‘The remaining runners are juggling physical injuries along with their mental health challenges – and trying to fit training into their lives.
‘They attempt longer and longer distances and even travel to the Brecon Beacons for a mountain run. In this episode we catch up with Rhian, Shereece, Jake and Claudia, who struggles with an extreme form of OCD.
‘And we need to make mental health normal, we need to treat it the same way we treat physical health, it has to be seen in the same way.
‘And the more documentaries we have like this, the more we have influential and very important people speaking about their issues and their battles, the better.’
The Duke of Cambridge’s brave admission comes the same day that he called for the end of the ‘stiff upper lip’ culture, something that he and his brother maintained for years after Diana’s death.
William pledged to ensure his children ‘grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions’, adding that for too long it has been taboo or weak to talk about personal issues.
William’s candid interview came as his brother brought mental health to the top of the agenda with a deeply personal account of his battle to cope with Princess Diana‘s death.
Harry, who was only 12 when she was killed in a car crash in Paris, said he later had two years of ‘total chaos’, often felt ‘on the verge of punching someone’ and had finally sought counselling for his demons.
His intervention earned praise from mental health charities, MPs and campaigners.
Kate, 35, joined her husband Prince William and brother-in-law Prince Harry at St Mary’s university to film a warm up and running for their mental health charity in February.
They met with DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles who is working with the royal trio on a new show for the BBC called Mind Over Marathon.
The show, which will air in April, sees the presenter work with those with mental health issues to take part in the London marathon.
Their royal highnesses join him in relation to their charity Heads Together which aims to challenge the stigma of mental health.
The three were pictured training together just over a week ago where they joined members of their charity at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Nick Knowles did not simply stick to his presenting duties and could be seen taking part in the warm ups despite the fact he appeared to have forgotten his kit.
News that Knowles would be working with the royals came in January when he revealed the plans for the programme to The Sun.
He said: ‘I’m working on a mental health documentary with the young royals, which should come out around the time of the Marathon.
William, who has been more reluctant than Harry to show his feelings in public, does not reveal in his own interview whether he has sought help to cope with Diana’s death.
Instead he highlights the ‘absolutely appalling’ toll of young male suicide and insists it is essential to talk through traumatic or stressful experiences.
William, who was 15 when his mother died, says: ‘For too long there has been a taboo about talking about some important issues. If you were anxious, it’s because you were weak. If you couldn’t cope with whatever life threw at you, it’s because you were failing.
‘Successful, strong people don’t suffer like that, do they? But of course – we all do. It’s just that few of us speak about it. There may be a time and a place for the stiff upper lip but not at the expense of your health.’
The prince also speaks of his children, George, three, and 11-month-old Charlotte, and the determination he shares with his wife the Duchess of Cambridge that they will be able to open up as they grow up.
William says: ‘Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings. Over the past year we have visited a number of schools together where we have been amazed listening to children talk about some quite difficult subjects in a really clear and emotionally articulate way – something most adults would struggle with.
‘Seeing this has really given me hope that things are changing and that there is a generation coming up who find it normal to talk openly about their emotions. Emotional intelligence is key for us all to deal with the complexities of life and relationships.’
His comments will be seen as a rejection of the Royal Family’s ‘never complain, never explain’ approach, epitomised by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. They are said to have encouraged their grandsons to go hunting within hours of learning of their mother’s death – in an attempt to create some ‘normality’.
William – who was just 15 when Princess Diana – spent many years staying quiet about his grief, but began speaking publicly about it when he became the Royal Patron of the Child Bereavement Charity.
Earlier this year, on a visit to the Child Bereavement UK Centre in east London, William told bereaved children that he was ‘very angry’ and unable to talk about his feelings when Diana died.
In one touching moment, he comforted a little girl grieving for her father, telling her: ‘I lost my mummy when I was very young too.’
He added: ‘Do you speak about your daddy? It’s very important to talk about it, very, very important.’
During another visit last year, William sympathetically rested his hand on the shoulder of Ben Hines, 14, who lost his own mother in June 2015, and said: ‘Time makes it easier. I know how you feel, I still miss my mother every day and it’s 20 years after she died.
‘The important thing is to talk about it as a family, it’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay for you to miss her.’
Writing in the Daily Mail in 2014, William also described how he had dealt with his mother’s death.
He wrote: ‘Initially, there is a sense of profound shock and disbelief that this could ever happen to you. Real grief often does not hit home until much later. For many it is a grief never entirely lost.
‘Life is altered as you know it, and not a day goes past without you thinking about the one you have lost.
‘Never being able to say the word ‘Mummy’ again in your life sounds like a small thing.
‘However, for many, including me, it’s now really just a word – hollow and evoking only memories.’
Neither prince mentions their father Charles in their interviews, though it is understood he was aware of Harry’s decision to speak openly about his grief.
A Clarence House spokesman told the Mail last night: ‘The Prince of Wales understands and supports Prince Harry’s decision to speak out on such an important issue.’
William, 34, makes his comments in a rare joint interview with Harry to the publication CALMzine, ahead of this Sunday’s London Marathon which has nominated their Heads Together organisation – a partnership of eight leading mental health campaign groups – as its official charity.
Along with the duchess, the brothers formed the umbrella group as a means of breaking a nationwide ‘stigma’ regarding the issue of mental health.
CALMzine is published by one of the Heads Together charity partners, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, which is dedicated to preventing male suicide.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 – three quarters of those who took their own lives in 2015 were men.
And while two thirds of women who have experienced depression seek help, little more than half of men can say the same.
William says he was moved to act as a result of his work as a pilot with East Anglian Air Ambulance. His first call-out was to deal with a male suicide victim – one of five attempted or successful suicides in the region every day – and he was shocked when he discovered the depth of the problem.
William praises his employers for encouraging him to speak about the difficulties he faces at work, but insists many are not so lucky. ‘Sometimes, emotions have to be put to one side to get the job done, but if you have been through an especially traumatic or stressful situation it is essential to talk it through after the event,’ he says.
And in what appeared to be a direct reference to his brother, he says: ‘If you don’t acknowledge how you feel it will only bottle up, and could reassert itself later as illness.’
His brother opened up about his personal struggles in an interview with the Daily Telegraph yesterday.
The crux came, he said, at the age of 28 when he began to suffer panic attacks during royal engagements. ‘I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.’
Diana’s death would send shockwaves around the world and triggered an unprecedented outpouring of grief in Britain