Prince Harry says parenting style of royal family inflicts ‘pain and suffering’

Author: CBS NEWS
Published: Updated:
FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2019, file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appear at the Creative Industries and Business Reception at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Johannesburg.(Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP, File)

Prince Harry says he was caught in a cycle of “pain and suffering” growing up as a member of the British royal family, speaking candidly about his father, Prince Charles, and comparing his upbringing to “‘The Truman Show’ and being in a zoo.”

Opening up for the first time since he and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spoke with Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry condemned the parenting style that has been passed down through the royal family on the newest episode of Dax Shepard and Monica Padman’s podcast, “Armchair Expert,” released Thursday.

“I don’t think we should be pointing the finger or blaming anybody, but certainly, when it comes to parenting, if I’ve experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I’m going to make sure I break that cycle so that I don’t pass it on,” he said.

“It’s a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway, so we as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say ‘you know what, that happened to me, I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen to you,'” the 36-year-old added.

After coming to understand his father’s own upbringing and how it shaped him, the royal said he wants to make sure he raises his kids differently. His and Meghan’s son, Archie, recently turned two years old, and the couple is expecting a baby daughter.

“I never saw it, I never knew about it, and then suddenly I started to piece it together and go, OK, so this is where he went to school, this is what happened, I know this about his life, I also know that is connected to his parents so that means he’s treated me the way he was treated, so how can I change that for my own kids?” he said.

The Duke of Sussex compared growing up under the scrutiny of the U.K. press to both “‘The Truman Show’ and being in a zoo.” In the Jim Carrey movie, the main character is clueless to the fact that his entire life has actually been an elaborate reality TV show, in which everything he does is recorded and everyone he knows is acting.

Harry expressed that he has wanted to leave the royal family since his 20s. He and Meghan stepped down from their royal duties last year, and officially decided not to return earlier this year.

“I don’t want this job, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be doing this, look what it did to my mum,” Harry said, recalling his inner turmoil at the time. Recognizing that he “can’t get out,” he said his mindset pivoted to try to make the most of his situation and use his privilege to change the lives of others.

The prince also dove deep into his relationship with Meghan, and the lengths they went to to keep their relationship a secret in the beginning. He recalled how, pulling a baseball cap over his eyes, he met Meghan in a supermarket to avoid being recognized.

“The first time that Meghan and I met up for her to come and stay with me, we met up in a supermarket in London pretending as though we didn’t know each other,” he said.

Harry said that he started going to therapy after Meghan encouraged him, calling “helplessness” his “biggest, sort of, Achilles heel.”

“She saw it. She saw it straight away. She could tell that I was hurting and that some of the stuff that was out of my control was making me really angry. It would make my blood boil,” he said.

“Once I started doing therapy, it was like the bubble was burst,” he continued. “I plucked my head out of the sand and gave it a good shake off and I was like, you’re in this position of privilege, stop complaining and stop thinking you want something different — make this different — because you can’t get out. How are you going to do these things differently, how are you going to make your mum proud and use this platform to really affect change?”

The prince said that the media situation has improved since the couple relocated to California, a decision that came down to putting family and mental health first.

“So living here now I can actually lift my head and I feel different, my shoulders have dropped, so have hers, you can walk around feeling a little bit more free, I can take Archie on the back of my bicycle… I would never have had the chance to do that,” Harry said of life in California.

Continuing the discussion about mental health, Harry said that he has been overcome by his fear of appearing weak for opening up about his struggles.

“Speaking out, especially now in today’s world, is a sign of strength rather than a sign of weakness,” he said, adding that he thinks two of the biggest issues in today’s world are the climate crisis and the mental health crisis.

“If we neglect our collective well-being, then we’re screwed, basically, because if we can’t look after ourselves, we can’t look after each other,” he said. “If we can’t look after each other, then we can’t look after this home that we all inhabit, so it’s all part of the same thing.”

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