Prince Harry Is Every Basic Millennial Who Just Discovered Therapy

There could be something relatable about the privileged prince after all.

It was during Melbourne’s fifth lockdown that I realised I could actually make myself available to more than one podcast. (Still Processing is just really good, ok?) I had vaguely heard people rave about the American podcast, Armchair Expert, hosted by Dax Shephard and Monica Padman, and after looking it up on Spotify was surprised to see the stature of guests on offer. Bill Gates! Quentin Tarantino! Barack Obama, for god’s sake.

But one episode called to me even more than the others: the man, the myth, the now resident of California: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. And yes, I’ve said before that I am in fact above stories about the Royal Family, and I still am, ok? I simply decided to listen in as an objective observer of the zeitgeist; a Louis Theroux of podcasts, if you will.

So I did it. I courageously hit play. And after some unexpectedly homoerotic small talk spurred on by Shephard complimenting Harry on his body, the prince moves on to the matter at hand: he’s there to talk ‘mental health’ in anticipation of the new TV series, The Me You Can’t See. Good for him, I guess. But I was sceptical of how much mental health' knowledge our fair prince could really impart.

Remember that time in March 2020 when the pandemic just kicked off? When those of us who have to work for a living were losing our jobs, our grip on reality and our collective minds? That was the moment that Meghan and Harry made the unhinged suggestion that we should all train as counsellors. Just how out of touch were these people? Most of us were in shock; reeling with the uncertainty of a fledgling international crisis. The last thing anyone had the emotional resources to do was become a counsellor.

But after listening to Prince Harry do his best to sound like a normal while touching on the hardships of having a palatial upbringing (he described the experience as “a mix between The Truman Show and living in a zoo”), I was surprised to find some common ground with the royal exile: namely, that the Duke of Sussex sounded a lot like every basic millennial who had just discovered therapy.

Millennials are often lumped in together with Gen Z. But unlike zoomers (who tend to be refreshingly open when it comes to talking about their mental health), most millennials didn’t really grow up using words like “attachment”, “gaslighting” and “trauma”. Instead, many of us are as emotionally blocked as any other generation. I’ve talked to so many friends in their late twenties and thirties who have only just started seeing a decent therapist; who are only now just trying to make sense of their trajectory so far. We’re trying to work out how to recover from everything that’s happened to us, non-ironically saying words like “heal”, all while circling the age by which we expected to have it ‘all figured out’.

The Duke of Sussex, despite being impossible to relate to in almost every way, projects this exact energy. Not only is he well into his 30s, he’s married. (Maybe you’ve heard.) With kids! But in this podcast episode, we learn that he’s spent most of his life completely out of touch with his emotions. “Wherever we come from, we’ll always find some way to… mask [our true feelings]”, he says to the hosts early on, explaining that he took to drugs and alcohol in his twenties to distract himself from the pain. “That was a huge part of the beginning of my life,” he said. “I just rejected [that idea], I said: ‘There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m fine.’”

In the episode, it’s obvious that Harry has only recently had the revelation that he’s spent all his adult life trying to avoid his emotions, before finally being encouraged to go to therapy on the advice of his now wife Meghan Markle. “You have to listen to your body, otherwise you’ve just got your head in the sand,” he says. He adds: “Once I started doing therapy, it was like the bubble was burst. I plucked my head out of the stand and gave it a good shake off.”

What was most striking about Harry’s episode is how basic most of his mental health insights are. He marvels in the newness of his realisation that you’re meant to acknowledge your feelings, not turn away from them – the whole thing is actually quite sad. He may have grown up in an obscenely wealthy family, but like so many millennials, particularly men, he never learnt how to become aware of and process his emotions.

I too was embarrassingly late to this game. This in part comes from being raised by baby boomers who themselves are fluent in the art of emotional repression. I watch now as my siblings go out of their way to break the cycle; to cultivate a sense of emotional awareness in my nephew and nieces, and I wonder how my life would’ve been different if those skills had been available to me as I grew up. “Must be nice!” I mumble to myself as I see my three-year-old niece totter around her sandpit.

Prince Harry is far from the most interesting public figure in the world. But the interview offered me the comfort of knowing how rare it is to have a perfect childhood, how common it is to feel disconnected from your feelings. So cheers Harry, for reminding me that I’m not the only basic millennial out there. And at least I went to therapy without having to meet Meghan Markle first.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are plenty of ways to seek help. Jump on over to Headspace (ages 12-25) or call Lifeline (all ages) on 13 11 14 to speak to someone. Kids Helpline has some great resources on their website, too, and a 24/7 call line at 1800 55 1800.

Listen to Prince Harry on ‘Armchair Expert’ below.

Written by Reena Gupta, a Melbourne-based writer for MTV Australia. Follow her on Twitter @purpletank.

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