Prince Harry is shattering the fantasy of life in the royal family in a candid, no-holds-barred interview with Dax Shepard for his 'Armchair Expert' podcast. When the couple sat down with Oprah in March, the world got a very revealing glimpse into the difficulties both he and Meghan Markle faced during their time in The Firm. And now, Prince Harry says his upbringing felt similar to what Jim Carrey's character experienced on "The Truman Show."
Shepard asked the Duke of Sussex what it was like to be among "a tiny group" of royals "watched by millions," and Harry described it as "a mix between The Truman Show and living in a zoo."
He credits Meghan with getting him into therapy to help deal with the trauma of his childhood and the issues with partying and addiction he experienced in his early twenties as a result of it.
"For me, prior to meeting Meghan, it was very much a case of, certainly connected to the media, that anger and frustration of 'this is so unjust," he explained. "By the way, not just about me, but about all this stuff that I was seeing."
Shepard, who has always been open about his own struggles with addiction, asked Prince Harry about his partying phase around that time. The duke acknowledged that his upbringing and childhood trauma played a role in that part of his life.
"Look how many other people do that, as well. They wouldn't necessarily have their awareness at the time. I certainly didn't have the awareness when I was going wild. Like, 'Why am I actually doing this?' In the moment, it's like, 'Well, why not? I'm in my 20s. This is what I'm supposed to do, isn't it?'"
Because he was born into the royal life, he didn't know anything different. He explains that before he met Meghan, he had resigned himself to his role within the family and what that meant for how he was supposed to live the rest of his life. It's easy to get caught up in the grandeur of a wealthy royal life (especially for Americans, where royalty doesn't exist), and he readily acknowledges the privileges he's had because of it. But he's also had to sacrifice a lifetime of normalcy by learning and growing with the entire world watching.
"It's the job right? Grin and bear it. Get on with it. I was in my early 20s and I was thinking I don't want this job, I don't want to be here. I don't want to be doing this," he said. "Look what it did to my mum. How am I ever going to settle down and have a wife and family, when I know it's going to happen again?"
Thankfully, meeting his wife was the beginning of the duke prioritizing his mental health. He told Shepard that his wife could see he had so much anger and resentment for the complete lack of agency he had over his life, and she recommended he see a therapist.
"It was a conversation that I had with my now-wife," Prince Harry said. "And she saw it. She saw it straightaway. 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."
Because of the work he's done in therapy and because he was able to step away from royal life and create his own in California with Meghan and their two-year-old son, Archie, he's been able to reflect on his relationship with his family with real clarity. It doesn't matter if you're born into royalty or born on Main Street, generational trauma affects so many families—until a cycle-breaker like Prince Harry comes along and recognizes that sometimes, the healthiest thing you can do is put up boundaries to stop toxic patterns from perpetuating.
Prince Harry acknowledges that his father, Prince Charles, was likely just raising him and his brother William the way he was raised himself.
"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, basically," he explained.
"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."
As someone who's had to walk away from many members of my family of origin in order to heal myself and become the best mother I can be to my own children, I applaud Prince Harry for so generously sharing his feelings like this. It can feel incredibly isolating to place boundaries with your family, no matter how necessary they may be—especially when you're a parent yourself. To hear this from such a prominent person with a huge platform will undoubtedly help others feel less alone.