Prince Harry opens up about grief after Princess Diana's death

Prince Harry reveals struggle
Prince Harry reveals struggle 03:45

Last Updated Apr 17, 2017 10:10 PM EDT

For the first time, Prince Harry is opening up about his deeply personal struggle following his mother’s death. In an interview with Bryony Gordon of Britain’s Telegraph, he admitted he was close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions. Prince Harry was 12 years old when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash. He said it was not until his late 20s that he sought help to process his grief.

“It was 20 years of not thinking about it and then two years of total chaos,” Prince Harry told Gordon in a podcast interview. He said his brother, Prince William, finally convinced him to get professional help after suffering in silence, reports CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata.

Prince Harry's mental anguish 02:00

“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 also my work as well,” Harry said.

Harry said it took years to come to terms with the loss.

“All of a sudden, all this grief that I never processed sort of came to the forefront, and it was like, there’s actually a lot of stuff here I need to deal with,” Harry said.

Royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah has interviewed the prince over the years.

“I think what he struggled with is being able to hide his private self in this very public spotlight, and I think what he would really like to do is be a bit more natural and a bit more at ease talking about the troubles he’s had when he’s in that public persona,” Nikkhah said.

Prince Harry on Invictus Games 2016, Princess... 06:40

Prince Harry has used that public persona to carry on many of Diana’s charities. In an interview with “CBS This Morning” last year for the launch of Invictus Games, he said he hoped it would make his mother proud.

“What do you think your mother, Princess Diana, would think about what you’ve done here for veterans?” co-host Norah O’Donnell had asked him.

“I’d hope she’d be incredibly proud,” Harry responded. “I hope she’d be sitting up there having her own little party and looking down thinking what we’ve achieved because it’s a massive team effort. What we’ve achieved is absolutely brilliant.”

Harry’s recent interview was all about erasing the stigma around mental illness. Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate will all be cheering on runners at the London Marathon next week as part of that campaign.

CBS News will mark 20 years since the death of Princess Diana in a two-hour primetime special hosted by “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King. “Princess Diana: Her Life -- Her Death -- Her Truth” airs Monday, May 22, 2017, at 8/7 CT on CBS.