Prince Harry urges Tunisia terror attack suvivors to talk about what happened because when his mother died, he didn’t.
Prince Harry describes the death of his mother, Princess Diana, as a “wound that festers”. But that has not stopped him from helping people with his experience.
Owen Richards, 21, lost his brother, uncle and grandfather in the Tunisian terror attack. He revealed that Harry gave him some very personal advice in March 2019. He unveiled a monument to the 31 Britons who died in the attacks.
Owen says Harry encouraged him to talk about what happened. He was 16 when this tragic incident happened. Three of his family members shot dead in a massacre in which 38 tourists died, five years ago this month.
Owen says he craddled his grandad in his last moments. A coroner praised him for his “extraordinary courage” in trying to save him.
Last year, he met the Duke of Sussex during unveiling a monument to the victims in Birmingham. It was an emotional moment for him.
Owen revealed Prince Harry wanted him to speak about it because when he lost his mum, he didn’t.
“It was a bit weird when he said, ‘when my mum was killed’ because she’s not just any mum – she’s Princess Diana. Owen says that it seemed to him that Harry was giving him advice and not just having a conversation.
Owen talked to the Prince after giving a speech at the unveiling. He also reveals that he was very nervous but Harry kept nodding. Owen says that his mother and him had a teddy from their charity, Smile for Joel. The charity was after his brother Joel. He gave the teddy to Prince Harry when Meghan was pregnant with Archie.
Owen’s heartbreaking story
Owen says he told Harry that he was there when it all happened.
His life changed forever when a celebration trip for finishing his GCSEs turned into a terrifying nightmare.
He was staying at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Port El Kantaoui with Joel, 19, uncle Adrian Evans, 49, and grandad Pat.
They had nicknamed the trip the Jolly Boys’ Outing – after their favourite episode of sitcom Only Fools and Horses.
Owen recalls texting his mum that they had got there safely and next morning the family relaxed by the pool.
But less than 12 hours later crazed gunman Seifeddine Rezgui, a 23-year-old Tunisian student, walked into their lives and opened fire. What followed next still remains a blur.
Sports science graduate Owen finds it painful to recall the horrors that unfolded on June 26, 2015. The four men tried to run inside the hotel complex to escape, but Pat fell over several times.
Owen was hugging his grandad on the floor when he was shot for the first time.
Pat said: “He got me.” Owen, who was also shot in the arm, urged him to play dead but the gunman fired again at Pat.
Owen crawled along the floor to find his brother, tipped to be a future Premier League referee, and his uncle, a gas services manager, both lifeless in pools of blood.
Shocked Owen later called his mother, Suzanne, 51, from the hospital and blurted out: “They’re all dead.”
College lecturer Suzanne, was at home in Wednesbury, West Mids, said:
“All I could hear was screaming after that. Then the line fell silent. My knees buckled and I fell to the floor. My phone started pinging with messages telling me to switch on the news.
Owen and his mother’s contribution
She went on to say that she saw Owen on the screen while he was getting out of an ambulance. She said she was in deep shock.
Suzanne and Owen have channelled their grief into Smile for Joel, which has raised £300,000 for families affected by murder and terrorism.
During the memorial, where Harry unveiled a sculpture called “Infinite Wave” consisting of 31 individual streams representing the British victims of the attacks, Owen displayed his inner strength once again by bravely making a speech about the horrific attack, with Harry providing a steadying influence from the audience.
This isn’t the first time that Harry has spoken up about the benefits of talking through traumatic events. In April 2017, he candidly told the Telegraph‘s Bryony Gordon Mad World podcast that “shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had quite a serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well.”
Harry continued saying his way of dealing with it was like “sticking my head in the sand”. He claims he refused to ever think about his mother, Princess Diana. He thought to himself, “why would that help?”
After experiencing two years of “total chaos” in his early-20s — and with the “huge support” of brother Prince William — he began seeking professional help, telling Gordon he saw a therapist “more than a couple of times.” He also credited boxing as a coping mechanism.
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