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Prince Harry and Oprah join forces for vital new mental health documentary

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Kayleigh Dray
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“I am incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah,” said the Duke of Sussex.

Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey’s friendship first came to light on 19 May 2018, when it was revealed that Winfrey had made the guestlist for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s star-studded royal wedding.

Now, Apple TV has confirmed that Harry and Oprah are partners, co-creators and executive producers on an exciting new mental health series, which is due to launch in 2020. 

“The pair have been developing the series for several months and are looking forward to sharing such an important project on this global platform,” said a spokesperson for the platform, adding that the multi-part documentary series will “focus on both mental illness and mental wellness, inspiring viewers to have an honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces, and how to equip ourselves with the tools to not simply survive, but to thrive”.

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Harry, of course, has spent many years working with communities throughout the UK and young people across the Commonwealth to break the stigma surrounding mental illness and broaden the conversation of mental wellness to accelerate change for a more compassionate, connected and positive society. 

“I truly believe that good mental health – mental fitness – is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self,” he said, when asked about the project. 

“It is a huge responsibility to get this right as we bring you the facts, the science and the awareness of a subject that is so relevant during these times. Our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive - sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places, and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better. I am incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah on this vital series.”

Prince Harry previously revealed that he came close to “a complete breakdown” on numerous occasions after repressing the death of his mother, in a remarkably frank interview with mental health awareness campaigner, and Stylist’s Inspiration of the Year, Bryony Gordon.

Harry, the fifth in line to the British throne, was on the cusp of becoming a teenager when his mother Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris.

“I can safely say that losing my mum 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,” the 32-year-old royal told Gordon for the inaugural episode of her podcast Mad World.

“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.”

Prince Harry with Diana in 1987
Prince Harry with his mother Diana in 1987

Harry said his initial reaction to his mother’s death was to block it out completely, and live his life “as a typical 20, 25, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’”.

All of the grief he failed to process, though, eventually came to the forefront of his mind. What followed, said the prince, was “two years of total chaos” where he was unable to explain or understand his feelings.

“I just couldn’t put my finger on it,” he said. “I just didn’t know what was wrong with me.”

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Harry went on to explain that he began to experience “flight or flight” reactions during public engagements, without fully understanding why.

“My brother was a huge support to me,” said the royal of his brother, Prince William. “He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s OK.”

“Some of the best people or easiest people to speak to is a shrink or whoever - the Americans call them shrinks - someone you have never met before,” he added, noting that he had seen a counsellor on “more than a couple of times”.

“You sit down on the sofa and say ‘listen, I don’t actually need your advice. Can you just listen’. And you just let it all rip.”

The prince said he also took up boxing: “That really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone”.

Prince William and Harry
It was Prince Harry's brother William who persuaded him to seek help

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health problem, seek help and support with Mind

Photos: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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