Prince Harry has written an open letter to grieving children, sharing that the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, left “a huge hole inside of me."
The 36-year-old royal wrote the passage for the book Hospital by the Hill by Chris Connaughton, which according to its website, is for "children and young people bereaved by the COVID-19 pandemic." The book will be published on March 23 on National Day of Reflection, a UK holiday that supports people who lost loved ones.
Connaughton told E! of Harry's contribution, "I wanted it to provide a connection, support and hope through the hard and horrible times of bereavement. It's also a tremendous honor—and a service to young people—to have The Duke of Sussex support this project and share his open, heartfelt and honest words with kids across the country."
In the forward, obtained in full by Town & Country, Harry writes in part, "When I was a young boy I lost my mum. At the time I didn’t want to believe it or accept it, and it left a huge hole inside of me. I know how you feel, and I want to assure you that over time that hole will be filled with so much love and support. We all cope with loss in a different way, but when a parent goes to heaven, I was told their spirit, their love and the memories of them do not. They are always with you and you can hold onto them forever. I find this to be true."
Harry added, "You may feel alone, you may feel sad, you may feel angry, you may feel bad. This feeling will pass. And I will make a promise to you – you will feel better and stronger once you are ready to talk about how it makes you feel."
In 1997, one year after her divorce from Prince Charles, Diana died in a car accident at age 36 in Paris, France, while being chased by photographers. She left behind two sons, Prince William, then 15, and Prince Harry, then 12. Both men have spoken about the trauma of losing their mother, as recent as this week. On Mother's Day, which in the UK falls on March 14, Harry lay flowers at Diana's gravesite in Northamptonshire, according to royal expert Omid Scobie. And William and his wife Kate Middleton, 39, tweeted drawings addressed to "Granny" Diana, from their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
In the 2019 documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey featuring the prince and his wife Meghan Markle, 39, Harry said Diana's death is “a wound that festers” whenever he hears a photographer's camera and that Markle's scrutinized royal existence mirrored the life of Diana.
In October, months before him and Markle left England for Montecito, Calif, Harry lashed out at the media for their tireless coverage of Markle. "Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," he said in a public statement.
In announcing legal action against The Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter Markle wrote to her father Thomas Markle (a privacy lawsuit the couple won in February), Harry said, "Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."
And during the couple's explosive March 7 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry said of Diana, "I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for her going through this process by herself, all those years ago because it has been unbelievably tough for the the two of us but at least we had each other."
Markle told Winfrey that she had experienced suicidal thoughts that were "clear and real and frightening" but was denied help by palace employees because mental health treatment “wouldn’t be good for the institution.” The duchess also said conversations with unnamed royals revealed "concerns" about their son Archie, 1, over how "dark his skin might be when he was born." The couple, pregnant with their second baby, also revealed they are expecting a girl.
Buckingham Palace responded with a statement: "The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately."
Related: Princess Diana allegedly leaked information on Prince Charles
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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