What did Prince Harry say in Dax Shepard Armchair Expert podcast interview, and what does 'genetic pain' mean?

The Duke of Sussex said his move to California has given him greater freedom and allowed him to enjoy new experiences with his young family (Picture: Getty Images)The Duke of Sussex said his move to California has given him greater freedom and allowed him to enjoy new experiences with his young family (Picture: Getty Images)
The Duke of Sussex said his move to California has given him greater freedom and allowed him to enjoy new experiences with his young family (Picture: Getty Images)

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The prince spoke openly about his problematic upbringing, referring to his own parenting style as attempting to ‘break the cycle’ of pain and suffering

Prince Harry has spoken out about his ‘wild’ behaviour as a teenager, and why he wants to avoid passing ‘genetic pain’ on to his children in an interview with Dax Shepard on the actor’s Armchair Expert podcast.

During the 90-minute conversation, the Duke of Sussex - who is father to Archie, 2, and is expecting a daughter - said his mother had a “huge” impact on him.

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The prince added that he wouldn’t “point the finger, but that he had experienced difficulties, “because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered”.

So what else did Harry say in his Dax Shepherd interview - and what did he mean by ‘genetic pain’?

What did Harry say about ‘genetic pain’?

Harry described his own upbringing as a "mixture between The Truman Show and being in a zoo", adding that by his mid-20s he no longer wanted to be a member of the royal family’s “operation.”

He told host Dax Shepard: "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.

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"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’.'"

Harry said he was aware of his privilege, and how it had given him the most “unbelievable front row seat”, as travelling the Commonwealth allowed him to witness others’ pain and suffering and develop empathy.

He now hopes to help others through his new docu-series ‘The Me You Can’t See’ produced with Oprah Winfrey, which debuts on 21 May, on Apple TV.

He told Shepard he feels “more comfortable being able to discuss my own struggles now, because I do it to help other people.”

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He added: “When you have suffered, you don’t want others to suffer. If helping other people helps you get the fix that you need, then happy days.”

Harry said attending therapy in the past few years helped “the bubble burst” and he is now aware of the implications his parents’ suffering had on him.

He said: “I never saw it, I never knew about it, and then suddenly I started to piece it together and go 'okay, 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?'”

What is genetic pain?

There is no diagnosis of ‘genetic pain’ but Harry told of how the pain he carried was a result of his upbringing.

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Describing how his mental health struggles were dealt with when he was a child, the Duke said: “(I was told) ‘You need help’.”

“As a case of, not weakness but 'I don't know how to deal with this. You're unhinged, you're not very well, go and seek help’.”

He added: “Every one of us will try to find some way to mask the actual feeling and try to feel different than how we actually feel.”

He also said he finds it incredibly important to understand why you behave in certain ways, rather than avoiding the cause while attempting to change your behaviour.

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How did he say this affected his own behaviour?

Prince Harry said he always felt “different” but this changed when he began his own philanthropic duties in other parts of the world.

In his early 20s, he met people in “worse situations” than his sheltered upbringing, who were more content.

It was then that he began to think, “I don't want this job, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be doing this,” but didn’t know how to take action to be relieved from his inherited position.

He added that he was previously concerned over how this would affect his children, “Look what it did to my mum. How am I ever going to settle down, have a wife and a family, when I know it’s going to happen again.

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“I've seen behind the curtain, I’ve seen the business model, I know how this operation runs and how it works. I don’t want to be part of this.”

He felt he had “inherited” all of the risk and felt helpless, while the media took “ownership” of him.

He shared a memory of being “helplessly” chased by members of the press while in the back seat of a car with his mother, the late Princess Diana.

Around the time he was pictured naked in Las Vegas in 2005, he said his “wild” behaviour was a result of years of mental health suffering and was pretending to be “fine”.

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“In the moment, I did not think, ‘why am I doing this?’” he said, adding that he was “cruising around” with his fingers in his ears “going lalalala”.

Harry added that his “unplanned” move to the US has helped his mental health and gave him new opportunities to be a pro-active father to Archie.

“Living here now I can actually lift my head,” he said. “And actually 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 never had the chance to do that.”

Where can I listen to the Prince Harry interview, in full?Subscribers to Apple podcast and Spotify can listen to Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, with new episodes released on Mondays and Thursdays.