Dax Shepard: Welcome, welcome, welcome to Armchair Expert’s Experts on Expert. I’m Dan Shepard. I’m joined by Monica Mouse.
Monica Padman: Hi.
MP: Special day.
DS: Very special, particularly for you as a royal-phile.
MP: I can’t believe it. I still can’t believe it and we did it
DS: Refuse to believe it.
DS: Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. Of course, he’s a member of the British Royal Family, the younger son of Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales. Radical dude.
MP: So cool.
DS: Had zero idea what kind of guy he was.
MP: Yeah, I thought he was gonna be a little more stiff, like a little bit, royal.
MP: And he was very fun.
DS: He was just a rad dude. Before you enjoy Prince Harry, we have an enormous announcement. Yeah. We here, Rob, Monica and I at Armchair Expert, are going to go to Spotify.
MP: That’s right.
DS: In July, exclusively, and we will be doing the exact same show you’ve always loved, or hopefully you love. And we’re going to be doing that on a platform with more fun features and more ways to get involved with the community.
DS: And it’s going to be wonderful.
MP: So if you haven’t already, please download the Spotify app.
DS: Get on that.
MP: And listen to us there. Starting in July, it will be the only place you can listen to us. So get on it now. And yeah, same show.
DS: ‘And we hope you all join us because we love doing this more than any other thing we do.
DS: Now please enjoy Prince Harry. We are supported by Brookelinen. My favourite hotel quality sheets to get into and writhe around in the nude.
MP: They just celebrated their seventh anniversary and they sent me some cookies.
DS: They did?
DS: What flavour, linen flavour?
MP: Yes. Hotel quality cookie.
DS: Well listen, if a lot of your life is still being lived at home, then make your home as comfortable as possible. A refuge, an oasis, your personal Zen zone. Go ahead and max out on the extra soft sheets, super plush towels and loungewear. You can get the best of all of it from Brookelinen. I just dried myself this morning on a Brookelinen towel.
MP: They really are incredible.
DS: They’re impeccable. They’re decadent, they’re soft, they’re absorbent. Brookelinen was started to create beautiful high quality home essentials that don’t cost an arm and a leg. They’re so confident in their product, they come with a 365 day warranty. So give yourself that comfort refresh you deserve and get it for less. Go to Brookelinen.com and use promo code ‘expert’ to get $20 off with a minimum purchase of $100. That’s Brookelinen.com and enter promo code ‘expert’ for $20 off with a minimum purchase of $100. That’s Brookelinen.com, promo code ‘expert’.
Title music: He’s an Armchair Expert, he’s an Armchair Expert.
Prince Harry: What’s your feeling about Joe Rogan’s comments about…
DP: Vaccinating? Ridiculous, obviously, and I side with him…
MP: Get comfy though, we want you to be relaxed.
MP: Yeah, there it is, there we are
DP: So I think what he said was ridiculous. And I also a little bit agree with him, like, I f***ing call fights. I’m an MMA announcer. I’m not Fauci, no one should be listening to my opinion on medical s***. So I agree with both sides, like, what he said was stupid.
PH: I think the issue is like in today’s world with misinformation just like endemic, you’ve got to be careful about what comes out of your mouth when it comes to that, because news doesn’t exist in just news anymore.
DS: Yeah, you’re totally right.
PH: It’s splattered all over the place. So people are like, listen to Joe Rogan say, oh, if he says that, then maybe I’m, and it’s, you’re right, this is sort of like, ‘don’t listen to me – it’s like, well, don’t say that, just stay out of it’
MP: Yeah, exactly, and just acknowledge you are a person that people listen to, you are.
PH: If you have a platform, with a platform comes responsibility.
MP: I agree.
DS: But it is all very tricky. So like Oprah famously got sued by the media industry for talking about mad cow disease. This how her and Dr Phil met. And part of me was like, yes, she has a huge platform. And also she can have a f***ing opinion about s***. And she’s not like legally responsible if you decide to stop eating meat because of her opinion. How about this? What if I say when I was single I didn’t wear condoms as much as I should have. Like, has that become a thing that people… I’m not advising anyone not to.
PH: No, because you’re saying you didn’t do as much as you should have.
MP: Yeah, exactly.
DS: Oh there we go, should have.
PH: Should have, yeah.
DS: Oh, OK.
PH: So you certainly share the opinion and say this is my opinion.
DS: Uh huh. And I recognize it was stupid.
MP: Yeah, the implication is that you should have done something different.
DS: That’s true.
PH: It all comes down to being responsible.
MP: Yeah, remember when we had the guy on, we had someone on who wrote a book called Hooked about the food industry and it was crazy. He was like ‘the same people who are selling you whatever the processed food have an investment in the pill that’
DS: Or he was being specifically, like they create this huge problem with overly sugary foods. They also offer you the antidote, which is sugar free food. It’s a good business plan. Like if I were an investor and you brought it to me.
MP: It’s smart, there’s no denying that.
PH: But supply and demand, right.
DS: And, by the way, I have a libertarian bent to me, I have an individual rights bent to me. And I used to think that until I learned that if it were a fair competition, yes, so if it was just this food tastes delicious, and you did not eat a bunch of it. But once they find out, they’re employing the world’s best chemists, to not just design a good taste, but a taste that dissipates really quickly so that you desire another bite quickly, like you’re outmatched in that situation. It’s not a fair fight. It’s like the algorithms on the internet. You can’t compete with that, a human.
PH: You can’t if you have the awareness of what it’s doing to you. And the fact that it’s learning, which is scary. And advertising has been going on for hundreds of years, but done really responsibly. The difference here is targeted ads. If ads have always worked for companies, you can put on the TV, you can walk away, you can come back, your involvement is switching on switching off or changing the channel. Whereas now with algorithms is there, it’s just feeding your habits. And it’s also reading through your emails and everything else. So it’s getting to know you, like, it gets to know the decisions you’re gonna make before you make them, then it creates this echo chamber of no pushback, of no context of nothing. It’s just perpetuating and feeding the bias and the habits that you already have inside of you, which is terrible.
MP: Yeah, so scary.
DS: And if you were asked what you were going to do next, and then you asked the algorithm what you were going to do next, the algorithm would be right, like three to one. So that’s why it’s not a fair fight, because you can’t remember everything you’ve done in the last 12 years. But Google knows what you’ve done for the last 12 years in a nanosecond.
PH: And I think they get to wash it – at the moment until it changes – at the moment, they get to wash their hands of responsibility, because like, oh, it’s not human error. It’s a computer. It’s like, who wrote the algorithms? You guys did? Probably all male and all white
MP: Yeah, likely.
DS: Yeah, yeah, and here we are, you and I, a couple of white males, pontificating. First of all, I’m so excited you’re here. It’s very flattering that you came down from Santa Barbara, like, you had to f***ing work to get here.
PH: That’s alright, I just sat in the back, did a little bit of work, read my notes
DS: And perfected the algorithm.
PH: And perfected the algorithm, exactly. I didn’t expect to come into a building site though.
DS: Most people don’t.
PH: That wasn’t in the brief.
MP: Left that part out
PH: I expected better.
DS: I’m really excited to meet you because, in full disclosure, I’m the most ill-informed person on the royal family. At least in my circle. You’re the only one I ever knew, and simply because you were in those awesome nude photos in Vegas. And I literally said to myself, this guy’s a party.
MP: Yeah. He has said that many times.
PH: Because you’re constantly looking for other people to go sort of balance out your own behaviour. Right?
DS: Exactly. Yes, yes.
PH: It’s relatable,
DS: Truthfully, truthfully. And then on top of that, I was like, God, this mother***er’s got a good body. You are in tremendous shape.
PH: OK, now it’s getting weird.
DS: Oh, we haven’t touched weird yet.
PH: That was a few weeks before I went to Afghanistan.
DS: This is the other reason I knew you is because I was there in ’07 during the USO tour, in the big hubbub was that you were going to be arriving.
DS: And I remember thinking, oh wow they send princes into battle? I did not realise, that was not what I thought happened.
PH: So much for keeping it quiet.
DS: Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, of course everyone knew, right?
PH: But I wasn’t running down the strip, stripping or being naked, at least.
DS: You could have been one of the dancing boys of Afghanistan, do you know about that?
MP: We should show the prince the calendar, where is it?
PH: What calendar?
DS: You think that’s gonna make him feel more comfortable?
MP: Well, yeah, because I don’t want him to think it’s just him.
DS: Oh, yeah. It’s not you who I’m just obsessed with.
PH: Thank you.
DS: Monica makes this for me every year and it’s a calendar of all my favourite bodies of friends.
MP: And they’re all men.
DS: They’re all men.
MP: And they’re all gorgeous bodies.
PH: Yeah. Why am I not September?
MP: Exactly, next year.
DS: Next year, yeah, we’ll find that.
PH: And why is it on September?
DS: Can I tell you that is?
PH: This is obviously a clear favourite.
DS: Alright, because you’re born in September.
PH: Exactly, who is this guy, though?
DS: That’s Kumail Nanjiani. You know, Kumail, don’t you?
MP: You might not know him.
DS: Silicon Valley, do you watch Silicon Valley?
PH: No of course I haven’t
DS: Of course I haven’t
PH: I recognize his abs.
MP: Very notable ads.
DS: Oh, so that’s an inside joke. My friend Tom Hanson, who I worship. He’s 72. And he’s my idol and my de facto father. He’s got the most enviable hair of anyone I know. Look, that’s a 72-year-old head of hair right there.
PH: What’s weird is everybody else is showing their abs and then he’s showing the top of his head.
DS: It’s kind of things I covet.
PH: Who’s this?
DS: Oh, so that was an AD on a show I was on – Nick, who just was inordinately jacked and I was obsessed with it and he accommodated Monica.
MP: I did a lot of very uncomfortable texting to get this calendar made, like, ‘Hey, is there anyway you could send me a picture…
PH: … a picture of your torso…
MP: … of your naked body? You can pick the part, whatever you feel looks best.
DS: And now that you’re in our sphere, what…
PH: You’re the one who has to ask the question
MP: Well it was a surprise gift.
DS: I don’t, I don’t ask for this. This is just some kind of benevolent gesture by Monica. And now that you’re in our sphere, you’re f***** because she is gonna ask you for something.
PH: But you can have the top of the head. It’s bald and it’s ginger but you can have the top of the head.
DS: Okay, so I want to know, are you nervous to do this interview?
PH: Well I didn’t know it was an interview.
MP: It’s not, it’s a chat.
PH: Yeah. Was I nervous? No. Not so much nervous. But I guess on this particular subject around mental health. Yeah. For me, it’s always a, unfortunately, today’s world is quite a sensitive subject, not just for the people who are sharing. But ultimately, the subject matter itself has to be handled with care. Yeah, there can be humor, there can be everything else. But when it ends up getting weaponized by certain people.
DS: Headlines, yeah.
PH: Yeah. You can never predict it. Though, probably in this instance, you probably can. But that doesn’t worry me anymore. I used to be fearful of it.
PH: Now it’s almost like the same groups of people that come at it so negatively, or try and turn it against you or your weaponize it and therefore affects so many other millions of people from doing so…
PH: Actually encourages me to speak out more.
PH: I guess that’s probably the same with you guys. And the same people that start in the same chair, which is like, Look, I’m going to be vulnerable. If I get attacked for it. Let’s see who’s actually attacking me. What’s their story? What’s their agenda? Right, who do they work for?
MP: It actually says more about them than it does.
PH: That’s how I’ve always felt when it comes to projection. I mean, hatred is a form of projection, right?
PH: We’re not born to hate people.
PH: So it manifests itself over a period of time. And of course, it can come from unresolved pain, or being hurt continually, as a young kid or through adult life. But ultimately, there’s a source to it. There’s a reason why you want to hate somebody else.
PH: And when it comes to trolling on social media, the best way that I look at it is I, okay, take a moment be aware of what this is doing to me and how it’s making me feel.
PH: But then look at them and go, how’s your day going?
PH: And actually have some compassion for them. Which is really hard when you’re on the receiving end of this, like, just vile, toxic abuse. But the reality is, is you say, flip it.
PH: Let me just say: What happened to you?
PH: What made you want to come with me like that, when clearly we’ve never met, you don’t know me? Like, what’s your goal? What are you actually doing? I know, it might make you feel better in the moment, but long term, it’s not going to help.
DS: Okay, so where I come from in working-class Michigan, I think my fear of sharing about like being molested or violent stepdads or all the stuff I went through. My fear was like, those people be like, ‘Oh, my God, you need so much attention’. Like that I’m mining it for sympathy or attention. Which I’m doing neither. But that was maybe the hurdle for me to get over is that voice of my peers at home, what would they say that I’m just attention seeking. What are yours? Like, what is the thing you go to from your childhood or whatnot, where you can hear people saying, like, stop being a baby, stop?
PH: No, I think more like ‘oh you need help’, as a case of not so much weakness, but ‘I don’t know how to deal with this’, ‘you’re unhinged’, or’ you’re not particularly well go and seek help’. And it’s like, well, rule number one is when you actually want or feel as though someone needs help, telling them to their face, ‘you need help’ is probably the best way for them to go. No, I don’t, object, run away, delay, all these kind of things. Or go and drink or take drugs or whatever you find.
DS: Go and take your clothes off in Vegas.
PH: Every single one of us wherever we are, wherever we come from, there will always try and find some way to be able to mask the actual feeling and be able to try and make us feel different to how we are actually feeling, perhaps having a feeling. Right, because so many people are just numb to it. That was a huge part of the beginning of my life, which was like, I rejected. I said, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine.
DS: Well, there’s a male component too, don’t you think?
DS: Yeah, I know. For me, where I grew up any emotion was weakness and weakness was cancer.
PH: Yeah, true. But look how much the world has changed now. I think the worse the world gets, the harder it becomes and the more suffering that there is, the more people feel as though they have something relatable within their community to their neighbours, or perhaps online.
DS: Yeah, yeah.
PH: And that’s creating a change in the conversation, certainly through the series Oprah and I are doing as far as I viewed it for many, many years now. And we’re very vocal about on the series, which is speaking out, especially now in today’s world is a sign of strength rather than a sign of weakness.
PH: So if you are making that conscious decision to say: You know what, it’s not self serving, but I want to share my story. I’m being asked to share my story to hopefully help someone or loads of other people. I’m probably going to get trolled. I’m probably going to get attacked by the same people that were doing anyway. If I’m willing to make that decision, surely that comes from a place of courage rather than weakness?
DS: For sure. The easy thing to do is yeah, stay quiet. You know, the fact that you guys are doing this series, The Me You Can’t See that you produced with Oprah and you guys conduct interviews, what I loved immediately is on the surface, you two have as polar opposite of childhood environments that two people could have. I mean, literally, if you had to build a spectrum, Oprah would certainly be towards the tail of one end, and you would certainly be towards the tail of the other. And you know, what I love about it is trauma, loneliness, all these things, they transcend that whole spectrum.
PH: But if I’m on one end and Oprah is on the other based on my privilege and my upbringing I present the opposite end. And then every single one of us is somewhere along there. And by the way, I truly believe that you can move along the spectrum as well. Right? Wherever you were born, you may start in one place, but that will change over time.
DS: Well you guys are almost flipping maybe. Oprah is going to end up as the Queen of America, you never know…
DS: … and you’re sharecropping a farm
MP: No you’ll meet in the middle somewhere
PH: But I think that’s exactly it. It is about meeting in the middle. Well, one of the main reasons for the series is to be able to have these honest conversations with people around the world who have suffered and are continuing to suffer, in some instances, is about stripping away all of the – not so much the labeling – but our backgrounds and the privilege because, again, within certain corners of the media it is very much like: ‘You’re privileged, how could you possibly be suffering?’ And it’s like…
DS: Can I interject and just say that I have unique compassion for you. Because I feel like if I were you, I would feel not entitled to share my experience that I would be judged as someone who was just not grateful or that had it made and was still complaining. Like, I think, weirdly, it is easier for Oprah to come from where she came from and tell you about her trauma than for you to say, you know what, it wasn’t f****** great.
MP: Yeah because people are like, What? You grew up in a palace?
PH: Yeah how bad can it be? You had like people like running around doing this… Especially in today’s world, and believe me, look, all of us have seen suffering. And I’ve luckily, because it’s been part of my own growth. I’ve spent many, many years traveling around the world, seeing other people suffer. And being able to have that empathy for them, the ability to put myself in their shoes. That was the education that I had. So the weird thing is that, yeah, I was born into this privilege. But the privilege also gave me the most unbelievable front row seat and education. My education is not in school, my education is about meeting people across the Commonwealth, right? 52 countries, 2.4 billion people 60 per cent of that 2.4 billion people under the age of 29. Like, everywhere I go, I ask questions everywhere I go, I try and listen, I don’t want to come in and say these are what I think. My solutions are like… I already know, they’re probably looking at me going. You’re a prince, you come from a palace. Where’s your crown? Where’s your cape? Sorry kids, there is no crown and no cape… ‘well I don’t want to [speak to you] if you haven’t got a crown, bye!’
But the reality is that you meet these kids, and you go to these communities all over the world. And it just puts it into context. Yeah. And that’s why I feel more comfortable now being able to talk about my own struggles, because I do it to help other people. I don’t see it as complaining. And I don’t think anyone should see talking about your own issues as complaining. It’s about sharing your story, knowing how relatable it is, because you will, I guarantee you by sharing the vulnerabilities and experiences that you have had growing up, there will be at least probably, depending on what platform you’re using, whether it’s podcasts or otherwise…
DS: As long as I keep it off Twitter
PH: It’s gonna have a positive impact on someone’s life.
DS: Yes, someone feels seen, they don’t feel alone. It all is wonderful. Now, I think you and I are also in a really unique situation as well. Like what you and I have had a really firsthand experience with is like, oh, the sh** that’s sustainable, the foundation for self esteem, all those things, sadly, they don’t really derive from all the status stuff that I bought into as a kid and that you were just inadvertently born into, which is like, all these things, the kind of dream we’ve been sold. I just like saying out loud, like I had made the most amount of money I ever made. People recognised me at the airport, and I was on the verge of killing myself because I was such a bad addict. Life was miserable. So like, I had all the things that are supposed to make you happy, and it just didn’t f****** work.
PH: So you were chasing something?
DS: Yes, the thing I needed wasn’t the things I thought I needed. Like the things you need is like connection to community being of service to other people, things that are actual self-esteem builders, not accomplishments or adoration those things at least for me didn’t fill up or give me the esteem I needed.
PH: Being catapulted into fame was presumably a hell of a lot to deal with? Did you have anyone around you at the time guiding you or giving you advice?
DS: I had a bunch of
MP: Addict friends
DS: Well, all of us super excited to get into night clubs people knew us and hot girls liked me all of a sudden, like the whole thing was really thrilling for about six months
PH: It is not sustainable.
DS: Yes. And then what really starts happening is like, I’m still looking in the mirror in the morning brushing my teeth going like, Well, I’m not seeing the person they’re seeing, these people who love me. I’m not that person. Now I just feel like a fraud. I feel like I don’t deserve it. There’s just a million feelings, none of them good.
PH: But do you remember? Or do you have an awareness to what the reason for the drugs or the drinking was? Apart from having a great time? And now knowing that you can afford it? Touching on what we talked about, there’s a reason for that. And for you, it was your upbringing and everything that happened to you, the trauma and the pain and the suffering. All of a sudden you find yourself doing a s***load of drugs and partying hard. Look how many other people do that as well. They wouldn’t necessarily have the awareness at the time. I certainly didn’t have the awareness when I was going wild. Like why am I actually doing this? In the moments it’s like, why not? I’m in my 20s. It’s what you’re supposed to do, isn’t it?
DS: If asked, you would say, ‘oh, it’s fun’. But now you read I’m sure Oprah’s book, which is great. What Happened to You?
PH: I haven’t read it yet. But yeah..
PH: You’re gonna love it. Listen to it on tape. That’s what I did. I don’t know why I told you that. Maybe you enjoy reading. I assume they taught you how to read. There’s so many layers to it. So of course, I later came through sobriety realize like, Oh, yeah, I was trying to regulate internal feelings with external stuff. So I had that awareness. But after reading her book, I realize like, Oh, no, when you grow up with six or seven aces, childhood traumas, there’s like a questionnaire of 10 of them, I think three or more, you’re 70 per cent chance of being an addict or whatever. So now I realize, oh, aside from trying to regulate, I can’t regulate, my body gets into a very agitated state quite easily because of all this stuff from childhood. And that’s just my biochemistry now, going forward, here’s a physiological component to it that ends up happening.
MP: But now you know what’s happening you can recognise in your body, and then you can regulate from there.
MP: The awareness helps.
PH: The awareness helps massively to be able to listen to your body. Otherwise, you’re just turning around, or the way that I described is basically having your head in the sand with your fingers and yours going ‘lalala lalala lalala’. And you think you’re cruising. And then there’s also cortisol, that’s playing havoc as well. And then the adrenaline part, which is just driving you and giving you this extra energy. And to some extent, I know I’ve been there, maybe you’ve been there as well, where you think: So whatever this is inside of me, is really helping. Its driving me. Its fuel. That’s where the sort of the burnout happens, because it’s like, this isn’t normal, but it feels great. Because I can get sh** done. And then eventually, it suddenly hits you. It’s like, that’s not sustainable. There’s no way. But it’s fight or flight. Right. Okay. Let’s go back a step. Your parents.
DS: Generally I provide therapy to the guests.
MP: Yeah, I feel like it’s switched all of a sudden, I just saw that. He’s the therapist today.
PH: To me, it’s always so fascinating to hear of someone’s struggles. And for them to be able to be able to explain or articulate why, but then also tracing it back to sort of what happened to you, not what was wrong with you.
DS: Yeah, yeah. Yes. So what happened is my parents got divorced at three. My dad became pretty irregular and undependable. My first step dad was violent cocaine addict that beat my mother in front of me. And I desperately wanted to save her and couldn’t, which then predicted my long career as a bar fighter. Anytime I think someone needs to step in. That’s my calling. Then another step dad, who was Type A marathon running engineer, controlling, he my brother fist fought, he knocked my brother out. I thought he was dead. My brother got sent to my dad’s. My dad [and] my brother fought so bad, they broke the coffee table. My whole neighborhood was gathered at the end of my driveway. I walk in, both my dad and my brother are bleeding profusely. My brother told me pack your sh** we’re leaving here. Like, this was just all the time.
PH: This sounds like the script of stepbrothers.
DS: The non comedic version of that. And then molested along the way
PH: Just throw that in there.
MP: Just a cherry on top
DS: A little icing on the cake. When we left my dad my mom was a janitor on Midnight’s my little sister was born, I was helping raise this kid at six years old. My mom was way stretched beyond what any human can handle. She has depression, you know everything you can have an addict in the home, mental health issue in the home, violence in the home, sexual abuse in the home. So yeah, I think all those things added up to: I love jack and diets and cocaine.
PH: Like, what was the trigger for you to go? Hang on a second…
DS: It became obvious A) I literally couldn’t quit drinking. Like I think a lot of people think like, ‘oh, yeah, I could or I could’ but if you’ve tried several several times, and you literally get the point, you’re like: Holy s**t, I am incapable of this. I’m going to do this for the rest of my life. I’m going to disappear for four or five days at a time. I’m going to be in these dangerous situations.
PH: Drinking for breakfast as well?
DS: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. And then I’d level out Wednesday, Thursday, and then just start it all back up Friday. And then tons of drugs every drug at all times.
PH: By yourself or with friends or both?
DS: It always started socially. And then it always took me to where I ultimately desire to be, which is completely alone doing drugs.
PH: Last man standing…
DS: Yes, yes, yes, yes…
MP: And then he tricks himself into saying like, ‘I’m the one that can handle it. I have the constitution to handle it. They don’t.’ Not: ‘I have a problem. And they don’t.’
PH: In that moment, were you doing it for fun? Or were you doing it to mask the pain?
DS: So what is now obvious is the reason I couldn’t shut it down and other people could. Now I recognize the thought of returning to the other feelings. I’d rather be dead. Like now I recognize that.
PH: In the moment…
DS: No, you don’t realize it like, like, we had a guest on who she and I kind of connected quickly. She didn’t even articulate it. But she mentioned crack houses. And I’m like, Oh, yeah, I’ve been in some crack houses. And then after that interview, I was thinking, it is weird, what danger you’d put yourself in. But then recognizing that all you’ve really done is prioritize your emotional safety over your physical safety, which then makes sense like, it’s worth me being in a crack house, which is crazy dangerous, so that I feel emotionally the way I want to feel. And it makes sense then.
PH: Presuming you’re with a group of people?
DS: Well a group of strangers. Yes. The most desperate.
PH: That must have made you feel…
DS: No, I was so judgemental of all of them. I was like, ‘Oh, look at all these f***ing addicts. All these crackheads are gross. I’m just here recreationally.’
MP: I’m not like them.
DS: Yeah, it’s all in group out group. No, I wasn’t to the place where I could accept: I’m them too.
PH: Yeah. But it proves that you can have everything you think you want.And actually need something very different.
DS: Yeah. And it’s counter to the story we were born into.
MP: But I want to say something about privilege going back and turning the tables back on you. Now you’re the patient.
PH: Do I have to pay for this session or not?
MP: No it’s free, it’s on us. I’m gonna say this, because I don’t think you can, or people will maybe attack you for it. But it’s really true. When you talk about going to the Commonwealth, and you grew up like that. And you had to empathize with all these people who are presumably in like, much, quote, worse situations than you. And they were they were worse situations. But you were in a horrible situation too and had to put on a smile, and walk around and be the person comforting, but in some ways those people had more freedom than you did. And I think that is a hard thing to reconcile, like, ‘Oh, I’m in a cage’, or maybe you didn’t know that yet. But I’m supposed to be the smiley one. And I’m supposed to be the one comforting.
PH: Yes, it’s this the job, right? Grin and bear and get on with it? Or is it in my early 20s, I was a case of like, I just, I don’t want this job. I don’t want to be here. I didn’t want to be doing this. Look what he did to my mum. How am I ever going to settle down, I have a wife and a family when I know that it’s going to 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 didn’t want to be part of this. And then once I started doing therapy, suddenly there was like the bubble was burst. I plucked my head out of the sand, gave a good shake off. 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. 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? It was interesting because now looking back – And of course at the time, it was a lack of awareness, but there was just a glimmer of awareness – Now looking back at it, I realized that helping other people helped me And when I created the Invictus Games, for instance, for wounded servicemen and women, from now 20 different countries. When I started, it was like, I’m gonna create this platform because I know that sport, rehabilitates people, both physically and emotionally and mentally. But once I started doing it, once I started to see the progress and the impacts. I suddenly was like, wow, healing other people heals me. And I think that’s where the sort of compassion piece comes in for all of us, which is once you’ve suffered, you don’t want anybody else to suffer.
DS: And it’s an estimable act. It’s something you can actually be proud of yourself for.
PH: Humans – that’s what we’re supposed to do. Compassion. There’s an element of selfishness there. 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. Wouldn’t that be a different world. If we’re like, you know what, I wake up this morning. I feel really s**t what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna go to help my neighbor. And I’m gonna come back and put my feet up and have a really good day.
MP: It’s part of AA.
DS: Yeah, it’s like the cornerstone of AA – is like service and acknowledging it’s a very selfish endeavour. And that’s OK. There’s a lot of ways to be selfish, and some of them are quite productive and helpful.
PH: But I think some people think that you can only really have that element of compassion for friends or for for people that you see on a day to day basis. But the reality is service is universal. I said, wherever you go, you’re going to find something that you can connect with somebody else with, and it’s always quite surprised.
DS: You were born in a palace, you’re a prince, someone could have been of service to you. Like, it doesn’t have to be someone who is got a cup in their hand asking for change. Like everyone needs a hand. Everyone needs an ear.
PH: I feel way more connection to those free people, emotionally free people, and I guess systemic free people. I feel way more connection to people that I met and work with in parts of Africa and New Zealand, Australia, Canada, or whatever it is. And I’m fortunate like that, because the privilege does give you blinkers. Mine would never particularly on straight. I’ve always felt different.
MP: Why do you think?
PH: Have I just opened up another can of worms?
DS: I was already laying out for you, when I was trying to empathize with your life today, in researching you. First of all, I need to know what was the moment for you that led to therapy? Like what was your moment at the bar?
PH: It was a conversation that I had with my now wife. And she saw it, 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. And it would make my blood boil.
DS: Well I know you’re a red-head so I know you’ve got a hell of a temper.
PH: It’s not a temper. It’s the fire. I’ve never screamed, I’ve never shouted. For me the best way of letting out your aggression is through boxing. But for me, prior to meeting Meghan, it was very much a case of – certainly connected to the media – that anger and frustration of – this is so unjust – not, by the way, not just about me, but about all this stuff that I’m seeing.
DS: The level of powerlessness you must feel.
PH: Hopelessness. That’s my biggest sort of Achilles heel. The three major times I felt completely helpless. One, when when I was a kid in the back of the car, and my mom being chased by perazzi. Two was in Afghanistan in an Apache helicopter. And then the third one was with my wife, and those are the moments in my life where, yeah, feeling helpless hurts, it really hurts. And that’s when you think yourself s**t. Like, I 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.
DS: Well, you probably get self-critical as well. I would imagine.
PH: Massively self critical, yeah.
DS: If it were me, I’d be like: What the f**k I have all the weapons and here I am – still can’t alter the course of this at all.
PH: Yeah, I mean, the good thing is the course is being altered now. And look – everything is supply and demand. And in today’s world, the way that hate has become so profitable, the system is set up so that whether you’re for it or against it, you’ll still contributing to it. And I think it’s really hard for people to understand, which is like, you see something hateful about someone or something. You then end up sharing it saying, ‘Look what they’ve done now. Look what so and so said’. But by sharing it, you’re fueling the fire. So the best thing to do is to be able to be aware enough to go: I reject this. I’m going to push this out of my life. I’m not going to share it with somebody else. Why the hell would I share something that I hate with somebody else? I’m gonna share the good stuff. And then collectively, we can flip the whole thing and then suddenly, compassion, love and empathy becomes the driving force rather than – Sorry, got a little bit a little bit a little bit deep there.
DS: We like it. I’m three-quarters erect right now.
MP: Oh god! This is part of his trauma. He can’t go five minutes without making a sexual reference.
PH: I’m so glad you’re here to keep us safe.
DS: Every – I don’t know I shouldn’t say every – Every teenager I’ve ever met and myself included, feels different. And you feel like everyone else is getting it and you’re not and you’re on the outside. Even if you’re like, seemingly accepted by the whole group. I think it’s very normal to feel different. But then in your case, it’s so compounded. You’re in the tiniest in-group of all time. Like, there’s the whole country. And then there’s you guys in you’re standing in one direction. And they’re the in the other direction looking at you.
MP: The whole world…
DS: Yeah, the whole world. I was liking it to the Truman Show, have you seen that movie?
PH: Being in a zoo?
DS: Yes. Well, that’s funny you’d say that, because a couple of the snaps I’ve had in public, regrettably, I’ve said that. ‘You’re not at the f***ing zoo, and I’m not a bear.’
PH: I’m not the attraction.
DS: Yes. Aside from that, you were kind of cast into a movie without being asked, which is kind of a wild wild thought. I don’t know that anyone could actually comprehend…
MP: Understand that, yeah.
DS: Truman show would have to be the closest thing.
PH I think the biggest issue for me was that being born into it, you inherit the risk, you inherit the risk that comes with it, you inherit every element of it without choice. And because of the way that the UK media are, they feel an ownership over you. Literally like a full on ownership. And then they give the impression to some of their, well, most of the readers, that that is the case. But I think it’s a really dangerous place to be if you don’t have a choice, but then, of course, then people quite rightly will turn around and go. So what if you didn’t have a choice? It was privilege?
DS: Yeah, no, I reject this because this was an argument made to Kristen and I, we had this whole campaign for paparazzi and magazines here in the US to not show kids anymore. It’s called no kids policy in most of the magazines adopted it. There’s a couple of sh***y places that still do that. TMZ and f***ing World Mail or whatever that sh**ty thing.
MP: Daily Mail.
PH: Page Six of the New York Post, they took pictures of my son being picked up from school on his first day.
DS: Yeah, so they didn’t, but the majority did. So when we first had our daughter, Lincoln, the paparazzi lived across the street from our house. endlessly, right? Since then it stopped. And it’s been great, but I reject: ‘You chose us. Yes, Dax chose this and Kristen chose us, but my f***ing children didn’t choose s**t. They’re just born into this house. And I f***ing reject that that goes with the territory for children.
PH: Yeah, well, first of all the people that are taking photographs and making money off of your life and your misery are probably the same people that really enjoy your movies. But I guess my point is the way that I look at it, especially now living here one hour outside LA. Like it’s a feeding frenzy here. We spent the first three and a half months living at Tyler Perry’s house. You let us stay. And the helicopter helicopters, the drones the paparazzi cutting the fence like it was madness. And people out there -Their response was, Well, what do you expect if you live in LA? It’s like, Okay, well, first of all, we didn’t mean to live in LA. This is like a staging area before we try and find a house. And secondly, how sad that if you live in LA and you’re well known figure, you just have to accept it. The first security we had, I said, Well, where’s the safest place? Inside.
PH: Just because I’m a well known person, you can’t go outside anymore.
DS: That’s what you wanted Harry, you wanted to not go outside.
PH: But it’s really, really sad. And of course, their argument is – the paparazzi and everybody else – is like all if you’re in the public space, then it’s absolutely fine for us to do it. So what is our human right as an individual and as a family, you’re saying that if the moment we step foot out of our house, that it’s open season and free game? What? Because of public interest?. There’s no public interest in you taking your kids for a walk down the beach. Nothing. There’s no news. This is my issue with it. It’s like – news should stay as news. What has happened in today’s world, is that news has been hijacked, and used to commercially benefit a small group of people. So this sort of rabid feeding frenzy. And going back to the kids point, it’s absolutely true. Like these kids don’t get a choice. They didn’t get a say in it. And if it becomes any worse then what you’re basically accepting as, okay, fine. So anyone with a talent?
DS: Yeah, let’s let’s criminalise punish everyone…
PH: Let’s punish people who’ve got a talent and have literally worked their asses off to get to a point where, yes, they’re making money. And yes, their fans are contributing to that. But they’re bringing entertainment and value to society, whether it’s through movies, whether it’s through music, or whatever. So if you continue to chase them and their kids, you’re probably going to not just stop them from wanting to go to work. You’re certainly going to put their kids off ever wanting to. So it’s kind of defeating. It’s a weird one.
DS: So having moved, it got better there?
PH: Yeah, way better. Just – what – two days ago, Orlando Bloom, sent me a message because he’s down the road. And we sort of keep in contact because of the perazzi. He sent me a photograph, which his security got of this long haired guy with a beanie on with his ear pods in with his massive camera lying in the back of his four-by-four truck, blacked out windows, a woman driving who she likes – sort of the peace sign when she’s sitting there as a distraction – when he’s laid down in the back of this truck, taking photographs of them out with their kid. And whoever else is in that area. How is that normal? How is that acceptable?
DS: Yeah. Well, when we took this on, I didn’t try for a second to say legally, this shouldn’t be allowed, because I know our First Amendment is such that it is going to protect the press as in some ways it should. It’s the Fourth Estate. That wasn’t my argument. My argument was, you know what else isn’t illegal? Sh**ing on your dining room table. It’s not illegal, you could totally do it. You wouldn’t do it, because you’re not a monster.
PH: It’s legal to run into the cinema and shout fire.
DS: Yes, that’s true. But there’s other reasons, you wouldn’t do something other than the law. You know, I’m saying I would implore people to not evaluate what, well, anything that’s legal, I should be doing so sh**ing on my kitchen table, I should do because there’s no law against it. That’s not how one’s brain should work.
PH: Again, I don’t want to start sort of going down the first amendment route, because that’s a huge subject and one of which I don’t understand as I’ve only been in for a short period of time, but you can find a loophole in anything and you can capitalise or exploit what’s not said, rather than uphold what is said.
DS: Oh, sure, sure.
PH: We can do that with anything we want. If it’s a commercial incentive, then great, or if there’s a ideology, or you want to spread hate laws were created to protect people. Right? That’s how I see it.
DS: Yeah. Well, increasingly companies as well.
PH: To put this one to bed for me, you guys can carry on talking about it, but I believe we live in an age now where you’ve got certain elements of the media redefining to us what privacy means. There’s a massive conflict of interest. And then you’ve got social media platforms, trying to redefine what free speech means. Why – I wonder why you’re doing that. And again – so this has been happening for 15 years now. And we’re living in this world where we’ve almost like all the laws have been completely flipped by the very people that need them flipped so they can make more money and they can capitalise off our pain, grief, and this sort of general self destructive mode that’s happening at the moment. So there’s conflict of interest is like the major piece here and, as you say, you can s**t on the kitchen table…
DS: Good for you! You’re within the bounds of the law, congratulations.
PH: Power back to the people.
DS: Do you go to sleep at night and you’re like, why didn’t break the law? Do you feel good?
PH: But Dax it does come back to supply and demand. If we collectively became better at not clicking on and not reading or sharing the things that we know, or putting other people through hell. Then there’s no market for it. But the more depressed and the harder life becomes, we end up surrendering to the information parallel with our own feelings. That’s the information that we end up sort of being drawn into.
DS: And the last stop is the pound and the dollar. I mean, it’s literally that simple. To your point. If no one can profit on any of this stuff it vanishes.
PH: That was fun. I’ve got so much I want to say about the First Amendment. I still don’t understand it, but it is bonkers.
DS: So having been born in The Truman Show, I’m curious. Did you watch television and movies.
PH: Did I make it to the edge? Did I find the fire escape?
DS: Did you watch TV and movies as a kid with kind of peculiar interest in non Royal Life? because how else would you observe it? I was thinking like you’ve probably never went to the grocery store with your mom or stood in line with her as she renewed her licence or all these weird little mundane things. Did you like have an interest in those weird things?
PH: I definitely went shopping with her.
DS: Oh you did? Okay.
PH: Only a handful of times because every time we came out…
MP: I was going to say, how could you?
PH: … we got pounced on. I mean, there was very rarely a day that went by without at least one paparazzi jumping out from behind a car or something, but also at the same time the beauty of it is like the first time that Megan and I met up for her to come and stay with me, we met up in a supermarket in London pretending that we didn’t know each other so text each other from the other side of the aisle.
DS: Clock and dagger.
PH: There were people looking at me giving me all these weird looks and coming up and saying hi, or whatever. And I was there texting her saying, is this the right one? She goes: No you won’t parchment paper. I’m like, Okay. Where’s the parchment paper? So it was nice. I had a baseball cap on, looking down at the floor. And how many times you’ve done that when you’re walking on the street trying to stay incognito? It’s like whoa – signpost. Oh, someone’s dog! Oh, hi – It’s amazing what you see – how much chewing gum you see – And how many people shoes you see – it’s a mess. So living here now, I can actually like lift my head, and actually – I feel different – My shoulders have dropped so has hurts. I can walk around feeling a little bit more free. I get to take Archie on the back of my bicycle. Now, I’ve said that they’re probably gonna be… but it’s like, I never I would never had the chance to do that.
DS: 1,000 percent but did you watch movies and TV with a peculiar interest? Or you don’t even recall?
PH: No, I just watched royal movies. Just to really make sure that my echo chamber was was absolutely solid. Impenetrable, this is my life – This is what I’m going to learn about, everything. This is all I ever wanted to be.
DS: Of course you watched it. But did you watch it with like the reverse? So here’s, here’s what I’m, here’s what I’m saying. Here’s what I was thinking – I was talking to my wife this morning. I was like, what kind of curiosities do you have? And we got talking, I was like, Oh my god, you know, it’s really bizarre about his life is that you learn all these fairy tales when you’re growing up, like oh, and the prince gets to the princess and all that. I think it’d be so bizarre for you to be told this story in that the ultimate prize would be to become royalty. And you’d be sitting there just feeling like a normal person like, well, this doesn’t feel all that euphoric. Like, I feel like that would be a real cognitive dissonance moment.
PH: I do think that kind of old way of thinking of the prince, the princess like, all these little girls reading these wonderful fairy tales going – all I want to be is a princess, I’m thinking …
DS: It’s not so rad.
PH: I forgot I’m not, I’m not going to get it right. So I’m not going to say it. But my wife had the most amazing sort of explanation to that, which is almost like, I’m not gonna get it right. But it’s: You don’t need to be a princess, you can create the life that will be better than any princess or it’s something along those lines. And that’s coming from her own lived experience.
DS: Right? She did it.
PH: We got together and she’s like: Wow, this is very different to what my friends at the beginning said.
MP: I think a lot of people feel like: Well, everyone knows what they’re getting into when they marry a prince. But how…
DS: Even I’m like… What could she have expected that she was gonna go drive around town and everything would be normal. Like I had that thought of like, she’s super intelligent. She couldn’t have thought. Now mind you, I learned she didn’t leave the house for five months. That’s like solitary confinement. So I recognise it’s even way worse than you can imagine. But I did think like, Oh, you couldn’t have thought, Oh, I’m going to just travel freely.
PH: No, no, of course not. And she never thought that. She said before she expected it to be fair. Which I think anybody does. It’s like, Yeah, okay. I’m a public role model. Or, I’m a public figure or I’m a celebrity, whatever it is, you expect a certain element of interest in your life. But at the same time, you still expect to be able to have a private life. As opposed to this idea of every time you step foot outside, you get chased, and even when you stay inside because of the way that social media is now you’re everywhere while you’re nowhere.
DS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
PH: So actually – and also by the way, if it’s not true, then that is unfair.
DS: Yeah, 1000 percent.
And especially when you can’t defend yourself so yes, I think when you marry into it, especially when it’s one Princess Diana’s sons there is a certain amount of ‘okay what I’m actually letting myself in for?’ But very few people actually know – apart from the Brits – how toxic that element of the of the UK press is.
DS: Well and then the one thing that was undeniable – because of course, I watched a good deal the Oprah thing – my favourite part is you playing with chickens while they’re talking…
PH: They’ve all got feathers now.
DS: Oh they do? Oh good!
PH: They were all rehabilitated from a factory farm. What do you call in America?
PH: What’s the other word – I can’t remember. Anyway, they all they all came butt naked, with a couple of feathers out there chin and maybe one out their stomach. And now after what, three or four weeks, well then they started laying eggs immediately, which made us quite proud as parents – ‘Oh my god we were told you weren’t going to lay eggs for ages and you’ve already laid eggs. This is so great. And now they’re running around fully feathered. Anyway, back to the chickens.
DS: Yeah, I was just like, Oh, God, that would be me in this interview. My wife would be talking to Oprah and I’d be like, oh, here’s a lot of talking. I think I’m gonna play with these chickens.
MP: The chickens need attention. But you said the glasses were never on exactly right…
PH: The blinders you guys call them. I call them blinkers. I think you guys call them blinders.
DS: Yeah that’s confusing when you said blinkers. I thought you were a moped. That’s what just derailed me. I was like, wait did he have f***ing blinkers installed?
MP: Blinders. They weren’t exactly installed correctly on you. And why do you think that’s cuz of your mom?
PH: Yeah, definitely the massive, immense impact that she had on us in the short time that she was around was huge. Because all she wanted to do was make sure we had as normal life is possible. But it was interesting. So going back to the whole sort of travelling around the Commonwealth, I thought I knew, right, having been able to travel that much and meet so many and such a diverse group of people. I thought I understood life. Especially bearing in mind most of the countries I was going to were, most of the communities are going to where people of colour. But then I was really shocked once I started doing therapy. And that bubble was burst. And I started doing my own work, really – a lot of work – and started to uncover and understand more about unconscious bias. And I was like, wow, I thought since I screwed up when I was younger, and then did the work. I thought I then knew. But I didn’t. And I still don’t fully know.
PH: It’s like a constant working progress. And every single one of us has it.
DS: Oh 1000 percent. I’ve been saying that a lot on here is like there needs to be another word that doesn’t relegate you to a member of the clan to be able to say, I’m unravelling it there should I just I literally couldn’t see was unaware of didn’t recognise. And that’s not over. I know, there’s there gonna be other revelations for me where I’m like, Oh, yeah.
PH: And you’re right. There’s a lot of people do view as like, you’re either racist or you’re not.
DS: Yeah, binary.
PH: And it’s like the middle ground – the middle ground. The rest of it is where we all are. Just black and white. Everyone has biases, of all sorts. But I think it’s a really important point, especially now, after everything’s happened in the last year and a half, like the world is changing, the younger generation are driving it. And you’ve got to like a multi-racial, cultural sort of movement happening, which has never happened before. But unconscious bias is the way that I understand it, is, again, it’s not something that’s wrong with you. Right? And you don’t have to be defensive about it. That’s the thing. No one’s blaming you. But the moment that you acknowledge that you do have unconscious bias, what are you going to do about it? Because if you choose to do nothing…
DS: Now we’ve got a problem.
PH: Then you’re continuing to fuel the problem, which means that you’re then heading towards racism. Whereas unconscious bias is actually something that is inherent, unfortunately, in every single one of us. But that it is possible to educate yourself to be more aware of the problems and therefore be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
DS: Yeah. As we say, it’s the water you grow up in, you can’t see the water. The water, you’re swimming in.
PH (Singing): Just keep swimming.
DS: Okay, When I imagine your life, I spent a lot of time pretending I was you today…
PH: I was about to say, how often does that happen? Now that I’ve spent time with you, please remove me from your head, from your torso wanting photographs.
DS: Here’s what if I were you I feel like I would have loved the military. Did you love going into the military?
PH: You’d been kicked out pretty quick.
DS: Oh yeah, I have the biggest authority complex. Yeah, I would not be a good candidate for the military. But I imagine having grown up in the fishbowl that you were in, and the in and out group being like, just 10 of us in the rest of the world. Now you entered this brotherhood, this fraternity. And now you’re in an in group, that’s huge. Now you’re living in a f***ing I don’t – there’s no royal treatment in the military, right? You’re in the same s***ty barracks and you’re f***ing doing all the stuff you have to do. I have to imagine you. Did you love that?
PH: I loved it. I love wearing the same uniform as everybody else. I love being treated the same. I love the expectation of if you want to get that job, or you want that promotion, or you want to finish this race, it’s all on you.
DS: Yeah, it’s a meritocracy.
PH: There’s no special treatment, you’re not going to get any help. If anything, you’re probably going to get treated the opposite because everyone thinks that you’ve had an easy life. And everyone’s always helped you get to where you are. And then suddenly, like – while I was at school, I hated exams. And I promised myself I’d never do exams again. Then I joined the army of which is full of exams. I still promised myself I’m never gonna do it and then I end up flying Apache helicopters, which is full of exams. And I’m just like, what am I doing to myself? That’s insane.
DS: Wait hold on. You are a pilot?
PH: I was.
DS: Get the f**k out. You flew an apache?
DS: Now I definitely need your torso shot way more than I knew before.
PH: We should go dune buggy together.
DS: Yes! You take me for a helicopter ride. I’ll take you in the dune car and oh my god…
PH: I’ll put a 30 millimetre cannon on the top, and we can have great fun.
Ds: It’s, it’s a chromoly tubing 4130 you can definitely support the weight.
PH: But you have an RAF flag on the side of it, which is shocking.
DS: That’s going to be an issue for you.
PH: Shocking. I’m gonna paint over it.
DS: It’s really from Quadrophenia to be honest, it’s a reference to who more than the RAF.
PH: Ok well, the well, the army in the UK called it called a RF crabs.
DS: Two things I thought: Wow, you must have really loved that experience. And what a great way to teleport into a different life that you had been kind of denied.
PH: A normal life. As normal as I could get.
DS: Yes, which was probably so f***ing exotic to you.
PH: Not totally sure whether exotic would be the word bearing in mind some of the accommodation I had to live in, and so on.
DS: But exotic in the sense that it was so rare.
PH: I think it was – It certainly made me, without question. This is this goes back to the trauma piece. What I didn’t realise was during those years, I was still functioning and being driven by adrenaline. So actually, I was one of the best candidates for that role at that time.
DS: For sure. Because you’re good at living in chaos.
PH: Good are living in chaos. I can manage four radios at one time. If there was anything painful, whether it was my body or whatever, I would just push through it. And so yeah, that expectation is that – oh he’s going to be tailing behind everybody else because he’s a prince. And the moment that I was towards the front, and by the way, the rule was, don’t be at the back. Don’t be in the front, be in the middle. You don’t want to draw attention. You do not want to be the first across the line. Because then the next week, if you’re hung over, tired, or just p***sed off, and you’re not at the front, your directing stuff are like – you’re underperforming. And like – ‘last week was a good week. Don’t pick on me, come on, please!’
DS: I had had electrolytes for breakfast.
PH: Or worse, was they turn around and say, right, because last week, you’re out the front. This week, you got to carry his bergan, I’m like – what, 30 extra pounds? Nooo. But it was, it was the most normalising experience or job that I could have ever hoped for. And then going to Afghanistan twice?
DS: And I’m super lucky in that I got to go twice. In ’07 and ’09 for a week. So I could leave. Right. But yet, it is a very, very unique thing to observe. And I’m so grateful I got to see that in real life because it is one of the most unique experiences a human can go through.
PH: You see people from all walks of life coming together wearing the same uniform for the same goal. The same mission.
DS: Yeah. And you want to talk about a petri dish of trauma in AA when one of us dies, we have a different relationship with it than other people on the outside. Like some of our famous members have died. And for us, it sounds callous. We’re like, yeah, that’s what happens. Like, that’s the expectation.
PH: If you take it too far…
DS: Yeah, and if you don’t do this thing, yes, that’s the outcome. This isn’t a surprise. It’s observed all the time.
PH: That’s one of the main key lessons within AA presumably, which is guys, if you’re not here, not taking this seriously, the end goal, maybe not the end goal – for some people, maybe it is the end result, the consequences death. Don’t be surprised by that.
DS: And so Likewise, when I was over there, some guys got killed while I was there at a base, some came back wounded, we went into the hospital to cheer them up. And I watched and I observed the people and how they were dealing with it. And what I immediately recognised was, they’ve dealt with this a lot. And similar to when things get violent for me, I’m calm, I’ve been there. I’ve been there dozens of times from my childhood. And so what you’re recognising is like, oh, everyone’s dealing with trauma there. Everyone has a method of dealing with trauma. And I couldn’t not see it. Because again, I was already sober and stuff. So I was just pretty fascinated with the culture and what people become used to.
PH: But first of all, everyone has a story. Right? And but when you are on the mission, when you’re out on operations, there is a certain mentality of, Okay, I’m here for five months, or six months or seven months, or in a lot of the US troops, maybe 12 months or 14 months, which still is mind boggling to come back and meet your kid that might be eight or nine months old has never seen never seen you before. But I think there’s a mindset that while I’m here during this job, I’m not going to think about the fact that one of my friends just got blown up and they’re now sort of [being transported] back to the UK.
DS: It’s not an option.
PH: It’s not an option. You can’t, but then what happens at the end? Right. Because then you go back into society, you go back to normal life, you find yourself walking down the aisle on a supermarket by yourself with an empty shopping basket going – Erm, why was I here? What am I getting? I wouldn’t say you become addicted to the noise. But there was a study that was done in the UK where some of the special forces guys were they were strapped up with the heart monitors, and they were showing more stress walking back home, with their kids running around and stepping on toys and stuff than they were kicking the door down and going in and doing the dirty on the bad guys. And you can think about like, when you’ve got the uniform on when you’re with your mates, when you’re with the guys, you know what the task at hand is. It might not be nice, it might not be pleasant, but it’s something you’ve got to do.
DS: Yes. And you have the illusion of control. You have some power over your outcome. But with the kids, it’s like, oh, I’m vulnerable here.
PH: Vulnerable, it’s completely out of my control. I haven’t been trained to do this. Yes, exactly. When I’m wearing my uniform, I’ve got this cloak that I put on an identity, which basically gives me this mental strength to be able to adapt and overcome anything and be the very best that I am in that moment because it is life or death.
MP: But the stress is there. It’s just going to get displaced, like it is building in your body. And then when you’re at home, and your kids are stepping on toys, that’s when you see it.
PH: I was just gonna say and I do not want it to sound like I’m comparing myself to a soldier because I am not I didn’t go through anything. But I had to stand on the flightline and salute while they played the bagpipes. And they brought back two guys that were dead. And then go into like I said, the surgery room and entertain these guys. And during that whole process, I was just invigorated like it was a very surreal, unique experience. And then when I got back, I was telling my mother the story on the phone like 12 days after and I’m back in LA. And as I’m trying to tell her about the bagpipes, I start crying. And I was like, Oh, I didn’t think that affected me.
PH: Of course it does.
DS: I watched two dead people come back and that’s so sad, and they were young. And I just at the time I didn’t acknowledge it.
PH: Yeah, but also you didn’t know them, right? So you’re comparing your own experience to his or her mates. Their comrades. Like, this is not my moment. Right? They’ve died. They’re a team they’re together, I’m an observer. But the reality is what I study, what I’ve learned over the years is people feel different stages and different effects from trauma throughout their lives, to the point of where you can actually enjoy driving down the highway. Notice I didn’t say motorway, I really am becoming American… drive down a highway and you see a road traffic accident on the other side. Like that stuff can affect you. That stuff you see on social media can affect you. Stuff within your own family within your own household can affect you. We just brush this stuff off every single day. And someone said to me very recently, from the moment that you’re born into today’s world, life is trauma, so the sooner that we actually acknowledge that but but it’s that cape – is knowing when to take that cape off, and being able to – not so much vent – but being able to release whatever it is that you’ve seen or experienced…
DS: Or just let yourself experience it.
PH: Exactly. But as soon as possible – the sooner that you can do it, the better. Because otherwise it manifests itself and as we always know, the body holds the score. So you may think that mentally I’m fine, but your body’s holding on to that. And sooner or later…
DS: The bill comes due.
PH: If you’re not aware of it, then you’ll keep suppressing it. And it will come out of you as forms of projection against the people that you love. So far better to process it and continue to put in the work and continue to be aware of what your body’s telling you ahead in your head set in your body to be able to find that equilibrium.
PH: For me, our mental health is as important as that and way more important than our physical health. So if we’re looking after our body and our body gets injured, what do we do when our mind gets injured? And if you’ve seen your mate get blown up in Afghanistan or something that’s going to trigger you. But then the last thing I’d say and this is like – the Ministry of Defence back in the UK get a really hard time for the number, in fact, there was remarkably small in comparison to what the media said it was. But the guys that are coming back from operations that were suffering from mental health illnesses. PTSI I call it because for me, the disorder is even smaller number to the overall PTS-group of people, because most of them suffer from – most of us suffer from post-traumatic stress injury, right. It’s an injury. It’s something that…
DS: You can heal from.
PH: You can heal from.
DS: Yeah, the language is important.
PH: Otherwise you’re just saying to someone, okay, I’ve been diagnosing you with PTSD. You’ve got a disorder for the rest of your life. There’s nothing you can do about it.
DS: At best you’ll manage it, you won’t heal it.
PH: Exactly whereas with Post Trauamtic Stress Injury is like: Well, that makes sense, because I just saw my mate get blown out. But the other piece of this is, what we need to remember is, the lot of the recruiting that we do in the UK, comes from certain cities and certain homes, where there’s childhood trauma. So what we collectively have already got inside of us, the trigger of seeing something happen in Iraq, Afghanistan can be the trigger. So everyone goes: Oh, it’s because they were on operations, and because they saw their makeup blown up. It’s like, no.
DS: It’s chicken or egg.
PH: That was the lid coming off of all the other unresolved grief, trauma and pain that they’ve been suffering from for so many years.
DS: Which made them good at that job too.
DS: So I think some of the trick, of course, is like, I want all the s**t I got out of that trauma. I want the spidey senses, I want to be calm under fire I want when all hell’s breaking loose, I want to be the level headed person. So I want to keep the like upside of it. And then I want to minimise the downside.
PH: So that’s what I’ve been working on for years, for the last five years, which is like, and it started in therapy of like, I don’t want to lose this thing, because I think it’s, I feel so connected to my mum. Little did I know, it’s adrenaline. But then once I was okay, the fear of losing that whatever this special thing was inside of me that was helping me communicate with people giving me this extra energy, despite the fact that after 45 minutes of meeting people, I get back in the car, and it feels I’ve just been in a boxing ring during 12 rounds. Oh my god, exhausted. Once you find that balance of being able to switch it on and switch it off, and being able to like channel all of that energy into the moment or the task at hand. Then you’re talking about more like a sort of like a consciousness, awareness, strength of mind mental fitness.
DS: And having choice. That’s the ultimate goal.
PH: And prevention, right? Staying ahead of what you know is gonna come.
DS: For me, it’s expectation. So taking a minute to go: Okay, we’re about to go to the airport, when I get to the airport, the TSA guys is going to make me do something that makes no sense. It’ll be absolutely illogical. And I’m going to have no control over that. And that’s going to happen. And then I’m going to get to the gate. I’m going to see a lot of people sneaking pictures of my children – that’s coming. Like when I can enter those situations, having already thought through, like, here’s all the things coming. I’m so much better in those situations.
PH: You have to do that. Because we’ve all got the monkey brain, right. And the same as when you get caught in rush hour, every single day. You, do the same thing, you jump in the car. You know, you’re gonna going to get caught in traffc, but then you still lose your mind. Like, ah, I’m gonna be late. Tell you what, why not just write a list saying these things are going to happen? And I’m just going to accept it and deal with it because it’s out of my control. There’s nothing that I can do about it. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure every single day.
MP: Can we can we talk about parenting real quick, because you were parented in such a specific way. Not just by your Dad, but by the whole family, and it’s so specific, that I wonder – and like you said, like, you were told: ‘Oh, you are just something’s wrong with you. You’re crazy. I wonder Are you trying to parent and the opposite direction?
PH: Yeah, what you’ll see in the ‘Me you can’t see’ that comes out on the 21st of May, is very much a case of: I verbalise it, which is isn’t life about breaking the cycle, right. 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, basically. There’s a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway. And we as parents, we should be doing the most that we can to try and say, You know what, that happened to me – I’m gonna make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
MP: Yeah, it’s hard to do, because some of it so just…
PH: It’s really hard to do, but for me it comes down to awareness. Like I never 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. This is what happened. I know this bit about his life. I also know that’s connected to his parents. So that means that he’s treating 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 US. Well, that wasn’t the plan. Sometimes you’ve got to make decisions and put your family first and put your mental health first and we’re not talking about mental health again on that spectrum piece like mental illness is at one end. Yeah, and then total joy and happiness is at the other.
MP: And no one’s there by the way.
PH: An no one’s really there. There’s certain days and certain weeks of course you can be there.
DS: Tom Hanks.
MP: No he has ups and downs!
PH: But life is a roller coaster ride. And of the way that I view it now and that 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 lifelike that, certainly for me, it helps so much.
DS: I just got so excited. One of our big fascinations is the simulation. How could Harry not have thought this is a simulation? Because he would be going oh, I was born a prince. What are the odds?
MP: And I’m the one person to leave.
DS: Yes. This is impossible. We’re pretty sure we’re in a simulation.
PH: Really? So you mean the moment I open that door it’s gonna like – ‘Great, thank you so much. Okay we don’t need you anymore in this role.’ What do you mean, in life? ‘We’re gonna kill you off. And yeah, down the elevator shaft! You good with that?’
DS: Ours is the least egocentric version of this because we believe we’re in her father’s simulation. So he came here from India. So we think he’s somewhere and he bought this amazing story. He bought a package. He’s going to move, and he’s gonna be very successful. And then his daughter is going to do so well. Okay, this question is for you.
DS: What are you doing?
PH: How long do we have left?
DS: Just three and half a half hours.
Off mic: Five minutes.
PH: That’s an hour and a half gone?
MP: I know. Did time stop?
DS: That’s called flow. The state of flow.
MP: We get in it in this attic.
PH: The worrying thing is you’ve got what two or three pages of questions that you’ve actually looked at it twice.
DS: I can memorise this.
MP: And also sometimes we don’t…
DS: Yeah, we go with the flow. We follow the rhythm. Okay, this question’s for Monica. Have you watched the crown?
PH: Question’s for Monica?
DS: When I told you, I don’t know much about the Royals, we’ve had 35 arguments on this podcast because she loves the crown. And she keeps trying to get me hooked into it. And I’m like, I don’t get it.
PH: Why do you love The Crown?
MP: I love the crown because I’m fascinated by the fact that everyone involved is living a life that looks very privileged, and they are tortured. They’re all suffering so deeply. And like I have so much compassion for everyone. When I’m watching it, the show is so slow quote, but there’s so much emotional depth. And I didn’t know I didn’t know about any of this stuff. I also, like wasn’t super knowledgeable. I just didn’t know that everyone was so – and this is what I’m saying when I said like, I think when everyone says you should know what you’re getting yourself into – There’s no way to know that that life comes with such a sacrifice. A huge sacrifice for a country like I can’t wrap my head around that.
DS: Being born with the weight of the country on your shoulders.
MP: Yes. Like it’s hard enough to sacrifice for someone you care about, let alone like people you don’t know a whole country…
DS: A concept…
MP: And it’s just a concept. Exactly.
DS: It’s a mental construct.
PH: You only know what you know. Right? So I think that there’s a difference there between the those of us in the family that been born into it and those that have married into it, coming from a relatively normal life. Yeah, coming into that is a real shock. A huge shock.
MP: That you normally know what you know is part of the fascination. It’s like we all only know what we know we all are in our own fishbowls of of some sort. And are getting passed information down that we just take we take unless you force yourself to come out of it. And like you did, which is so – I have so much admiration – because especially after watching that, even though I know it’s a show, what you did truly seems impossible and takes so much strength and I have tonnes of admiration for you doing that for your family and for you.
DS: If things go sideways with you a Meaghan just…
MP: I have a house right over there…
DS: We can be neighbours, we go to the dunes all the time…
MP: No, it’s really amazing.
PH: That’s sweet. I think one of the points is like when you realise that you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, at that point. I just have to thank the UK press at this point. Because it got so bad, so quickly…
DS: It liberated you.
MP: It forced you into a corner.
PH: The moment you have to acknowledge that fear and go: Actually, I’m no longer scared of you. I’m no longer scared of doing or saying what you want me to do or say.
DS: You basically confronted and an abuser, which is like the most scary idea in the world.
MP: Exactly right. And I think it takes a very special personality to do it. I know, you’re saying you’re kind of forced into it. But other people in your family are in this similar position.
DS: I did wonder. Do you think you could have done it if you were the oldest?
PH: I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question.
DS: That’s probably too dodgy of a question to even ask you. So you’ve never seen it? I would imagine or have you seen it The Crown?
PH: I managed to get away with…
MP: Not answering.
PH: I’ve seen elements of it.
MP: I’m sure everyone you talk to is going to ask you that, but it’s a very good show.
DS: It’s a good show.
PH: I hear it’s very popular.
DS: I’m trying to – or knowing I was gonna ask you that on Monica’s behalf – I was again, trying to imagine: Okay, so I was born in this thing, they make – they make, you know, like seven seasons about my family, I would certainly be curious. And then also, I would feel very protective. That would be like, I don’t want an artist to interpret what my mother being killed was like, I don’t want people to indulge in that. It’s like, you know, it’s a bad idea right from the get go. But you’re very drawn to find out as well.
PH: I think we all are right? Again, social media really plays off those weaknesses and vulnerability to a certain extent, but I don’t think you ever get used to it. But it is part of that life where you kind of have to – or at least certainly I was told this for many years – It’s just the way that it is. You have to accept that they are going to write x y z about you. But what if it’s not true? And it’s like, well, just starting to show them that you care, because if you show them that you care, then they’re going to do it more and more and more. So basically, you’re screwed, like there’s absolutely no way out of this. And so yeah…
MP: Well, there is a way out and you found it. I mean, you did it.
PH: Yeah, that’s true.
DS: You would have never gone to the sand dunes with me. That would have never happened. You realise that?
PH: Well it still hasn’t happened yet, and it won’t happen as long as you have the RAF on the side of your buggy it ain’t gonna happen!
DS: I’ll put er… what do you want on there?
PH: Oh that’s a good question.
DS: KFC logo?
PH: In And Out logo.
DS: I could do that. Yeah, I could have I could have that stickered up no problem. Well, Harry, I’ve really really liked talking to you. You’re very charming. You’re very intelligent. You’re handsome, and I can’t wait to see your torso.
PH: Back to the diary of torsos again.
MP: Thank you so much for coming.
PH: If I’d known we were gonna be in a small room above your garage, I wouldn’t have come!
MP: Exactly, we kept that one quiet.
PH: Especially when there’s a really nice RV parked ’round the back. Why are we not in that? I came here and was like – oh this is nice – It was like no no no, we’re over there. What, in the building site?
DS: You’ll understand this better than anyone here and that is for my private life, and this is from my public life.
PH: What’s in the RV then?
DS: A sex lair… you name it. It’s all in there. Well, thanks a million for coming down and doing this in person. It was really fun.
PH: Not at all, nice to see you guys and thanks for the laughs.
DS: So I just want to remind everyone that May 21 on Apple Plus, you should check out Oprah and Prince Harry’s ‘The me you can’t see’. I have to imagine it’s similar to her book, which I just read, which is absolutely incredible ‘What happened to you?’ So everyone should check out ‘The me you can’t see’ on Apple plus May 21.
MP: What a combo.
PH: I think like for the ‘Me you can’t see’, encourage everybody to watch it really because what it will do is it’ll prove that you are not alone. And I think after the last 16 months, maybe more now, people are feeling really lonely.
DS: Well, now they’re literally and figuratively alone.
PH: Yeah, we’re moving from the physical to the emotional, right, physically. At the beginning of this pandemic, people were panicking. And there was that fight or flight like, ahh what do we do like lockdown, survival? Yeah. And now that the vaccines have been sort of, we’re getting to the point where more and more people are being vaccinated, we’re now in the emotional phase of what I read in the New York Times article was called languishing, which is really interesting. It’s like the is the middle child between flourishing and depression. You just feel flat, and it’s not depressed. It’s definitely not flourishing. You lack the energy and the will, the motivation, all that kind of stuff. Because you’re kind of sitting there going – Well, what happens next?
DS: Yeah, you’ve lost momentum.
PH: Yeah. And I think it’s really important that we talk about languishing. And it was coined by someone I can’t remember who but I think it was the journalist who wrote the story was Adam Grant.
DS: We talk to him all the time.
MP: Adam’s our best friend. I did not know he came up with that.
PH: No, he didn’t come up with it. Someone else came up with him, he wrote this, the most amazing article about languishing and the fact that how important it is to be able to talk about it because – look when it comes to mental health, we need to realise and accept that every single one of us have mental health. There’s varying degrees, as we said, you’ve got the mental illness, and then you’ve got the sort of the awareness and the work that you can put in, like, Where do you want to be that we shouldn’t just sit there and go: Oh, mental illness is once we are literally on the floor crawling around in the foetal position needing help. But for me, I don’t think I need therapy anymore. But I wanted. And when I say therapy, I mean, actual therapy, sitting down having a discussion with someone. But I also mean like, nature, like going for walks, like throwing the ball for my dog down the beach and stuff like that. There are certain things around the world that are free, some you have to pay for, but ultimately go searching for the things that make you feel good about yourself. Like that’s the key to life, get rid of the bad stuff, get rid of the hate, and just focus on the good. And your whole life turns around from that.
DS: Well, in this notion that there’s a separation between mental health and your physical health is kind of comical, because like I have psoriatic arthritis and I’ll tell you when my head’s not right, lo and behold, I have a flare up. If I have too much stress, and I’m not dealing with it right. I have a f***ing flare up. So there’s no division.
PH: I hate this idea. And I was one of them. I fell for it. Right? I didn’t acknowledge that clearly what happened to me when I was 12 years old, losing my mom and all the other pieces that happened, the traumatic experiences that happened to me since then, I didn’t acknowledge them, when perhaps – maybe I need to deal with this because if I don’t, how the hell am I going to be a decent father to my son and my daughter? Like that awareness, I didn’t have then. But again, we’ve got what – 40 experts as part of this series, and the Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, she’s absolutely fantastic. And she was talking about this concept of mental health being sort of public health, right. Because the services are so limited. There’s not enough money. The problem is actually immense. How can we all help each other rather than this: ‘Oh, once I’m broken, or once I’m suffering, I have to go here.’ And there’s not enough rooms or spaces for the amount of people or the for the need, when actually you can get ahead of it, and work on the prevention by sharing and being more vulnerable with each other, and being able to process this grief or this loss, or this trauma that every single one of us have experienced and will experience. So anyone who’s sitting there going: ‘I don’t have a problem, and I never will have a problem.’ Well, you probably are already contributing to the problem, because you probably got your blinkers on, you probably created your own echo chambers. So I think it’s a that, that’s certainly what I’ve experienced for my own process, my own journey, my family and my friends and everybody else is. Anyone who thinks, oh, we’re fine. You’re the one who’s like, willing to talk about it. It’s like, yeah, I’m willing to talk about it and talking about it has helped me heal. Now I need to help you guys.
DS: And we’re incentivized to do it, because not dealing with it – there’s all these predictable outcomes. There’s health outcomes, there’s incarceration outcomes, there’s all these outcomes that we all pay for all downriver if we don’t confront this stuff.
PH: And the financial element as well. We’re pouring money into on the downsteam, when it’s like, Can we just focus upstream? Yeah, we focus on one thing, like to me listen to Oprah was what was one of the reasons that this whole thing started was two of the biggest issues that we’re facing in today’s world, I think, is the climate crisis, and mental health. And they’re both intrinsically linked. Basically if we neglect our collective wellbeing, then we’re screwed. Basically, because we can’t look after ourselves. We can’t look after each other. We can’t look after each other, we can’t look after this home that we all inhabit. So it’s all part of the same thing.
DS: Prince Harry, I don’t say this lightly. I love you. Thanks for coming. This was great.
M: Thank you so much.
PH: Thank you very much.