Prince Harry has spoken out about doing ayahuasca and how it helped him cope with the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
The Duke of Sussex addressed how he once took the psychedelic drug with a professional during a recent interview with The Telegraph, which was published days after he released his new memoir, Spare. Ayahuasca is “a plant-based psychedelic,” which “can alter a person’s thinking, sense of time and emotions,” according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation.
During his conversation with journalist Bryony Gordon, Harry said that the drug helped him come to terms with his mother’s death and “be happy” with his life — just like Diana wanted him to do.
“After taking ayahuasca with the proper people,” he said. “I suddenly realised – wow! – it’s not about the crying. She [Diana] wants me to be happy. So this weight off my chest was not the need to cry, it was the acceptance and realisation that she has gone, but that she wants me to be happy and that she’s very much present in my life.”
In 1997, Prince Diana famously died in a car crash at the age of 36. Harry was 12-years-old when his mother passed while his brother, Prince William, was 14.
Elsewhere in The Telegraph interview, Harry said that he started doing harder drugs when he was 13 to avoid his feelings.
“I started to go slightly off the rails, and deal with it through drinking and drugs, and he went completely silent and completely shut down,” he said. “And then my life started to alter and completely change, because I wanted, or had no other choice, than to confront the very thing that I had been running from, or scared of, for all those years.”
He said he did everything he could “not to think about” his mother, prompting his brother to suggest that he go to therapy. However, he said he didn’t end up going to therapy until he started dating his now wife, Meghan Markle.
Harry then confessed how beneficial therapy was, as it allowed him to accept his mother’s death and cry over it.
“It was like clearing the windscreen, clearing away all the Instagram filters, all of life’s filters,” he said. “I started to confront the idea that mummy wanted me to cry. I convinced myself that she must have wanted me to cry, that that was the only way I could prove to her that I still miss her.”
In his new memoir, the Duke opened up how therapy and explained how bringing his mother’s perfume to one of his sessions helped him cope with her death.
He noted that his therapist urged him to reflect on what he remembered about his mother, including “bedtimes in Kensington Palace” when he’d go from “inhaling her perfume” to then “lying in bed”.
“We’re breaking through,” Harry’s therapist told him. “Let’s not stop there.”
He then described the perfume, writing: “First, by Van Cleef & Arpels. At the start of our session, I lifted the lid, took a deep sniff. Like a tab of LSD.”
Harry further explained why this perfume was so powerful.
“I read somewhere that smell is our oldest sense, and that fitted with what I experienced in that moment, images rising from what felt like the most primal part of my brain,” he continued.