Prince Harry Wanted to Quit Royal Life in His 20s: 'Look at What It Did to My Mom'

·6 min read

Therapy helped Prince Harry realize how he could use his royal position for good.

The Duke of Sussex opened up about wanting to leave royal duty — and the negative impact fame had on his late mother, Princess Diana — on the Armchair Expert podcast with hosts Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, released on Wednesday.

"In my early twenties, it was a case of, I don't want this job, I don't want to be here, I don't want to be doing this," Harry said. "Look what it did to my mom, how am I ever gonna settle down, have a wife and a family when I know that it's gonna happen again because I know 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."

Prince Harry, 36, said that after starting therapy, "suddenly there was like a bubble that burst."

He also shared how Meghan inspired him to seek help as well. "It was a conversation that I had with my now wife. And she saw it straight away, she could tell that I was hurting and that some of the stuff that was out of my control was making me really angry," he said. "It would make my blood boil."

RELATED: Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey Reveal Premiere Date for Their Much-Anticipated Mental Health Series

"I plucked my head out of the sand, gave it a good shake off," he said. "And I was like, 'Okay, you're in this position of privilege, stop complaining or stop thinking as though you want something different, make this different, because you can't get out."

Harry continued, "So how are you going to do this differently? How are you going to make your mom proud? How are you going to use this platform to really affect change and be able to give people that confidence to be able to change their own lives?"

Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Princess Diana, Prince Harry and Prince William

Prince Harry said that he went on to create the Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style competition for wounded service personnel and veterans.

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Prince Harry's interview on the Armchair Expert podcast.

"Once I started to see the progress and the impact, I saw like, 'Wow, healing other people heals me,' and I think that's where the compassion comes in for all of us, which is, once you've suffered, you don't want anybody else to suffer," he said. "As a human, that's what we're supposed to do, right, compassion, there's an element of selfishness there, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think if you helping other people gets you the fix that you want or that you need, happy days!"

Prince Harry also recounted the three times in his life that he felt "completely helpless:" riding in a car with mom Princess Diana in a car being chased by photographers, in a helicopter while serving in Afghanistan and when his wife Meghan Markle was suffering.

"Those are the moments in my life where feeling helpless hurts. It really hurts," he said. "And that's when you think to yourself, 'S---, I've got the privilege, I've got the platform, I've got the influence and even I can't fix this. I can't change this. And when you start getting in your head about it, that's when it starts sort of taking a toll."

Chris Jackson/Getty Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

He went on to say he wanted to "break" the cycle of "genetic pain and suffering."

"There's no blame. 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 that I break that cycle so that I don't pass it on," he said. "There's a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway. 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."

"It comes down to awareness," Harry added. "I never saw it. I never knew about it. And then suddenly I started to piece it all together and go, okay, so this is where he went to school. [As was depicted in The Crown, Prince Charles was said to be forced to attend the strict Scottish boarding school, Gordonstoun.] This what happened. I know this bit about his life. I also know that's connected to his parents. So that means that he's treated me the way that he was treated, which means how can I change that for my own kids?

"And, well, here I am. I've now moved my whole family to the U.S. but that wasn't the plan. But sometimes you've got to make decisions and put your family first and put your mental health first.

"Life is a roller coaster ride. And the way that I view it now, and it gives me such peace of mind, which is the bad stuff that happens. What can you learn from it? If the universe is basically saying to you, right, I'm going to school you, what can I take from each of those moments? That's going to make me better prepared for the next time around. And if you go into life like that, certainly for me, it's helped so much."

Prince Harry's podcast appearance comes ahead of the premiere of his new mental health series on AppleTV+, airing May 21. The Me You Can't See will help "lift the veil on the current state of mental health and well-being," according to a press release shared on Monday.

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"We are born into different lives, brought up in different environments, and as a result are exposed to different experiences. But our shared experience is that we are all human," said the Duke of Sussex.

"The majority of us carry some form of unresolved trauma, loss, or grief, which feels — and is—very personal," he continued. "Yet the last year has shown us that we are all in this together, and my hope is that this series will show there is power in vulnerability, connection in empathy and strength in honesty."

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