Stiff Upper Lip or Emotional Wellbeing?

When Diana, the Princess of Wales, died in a tragic car accident in August 1997, the world went into shock. Britain had lost a favoured icon, a symbol of beauty and kindness, but more importantly two young boys lost their mother. They did not have the ability to grieve the private, and instead was frogmarched to view the masses of flowers that became a shrine. Their grief was all of the public’s grief. The Queen’s decision to stay quiet to shelter the boys came at a cost of headlines like “Where is our Queen?” in the Sun. Her decision to stay quiet appeared to be a shun of the ‘stiff upper lip’ culture that goes hand in hand with being a royal. Yet she would later to return to this frame of being, and grieved with the public.

For William and Harry, they were just two young boys who lost their mother. Yes, they were surrounded by privilege so why their pain should be seen as more important than the average Joe who lost their mother? They hid their emotions to do their duty or their country, but nearly twenty years after her death they have decided to shun this ideology to stay professional to the public. Along with the ‘Heads Together’ campaign, both Princes and the Duchess of Cambridge have publicly discussed their emotions. Harry was seen as the wild party animal during his youth- seen in a Nazi uniform; smoking cannabis; and those infamous nude photos in Vegas. In reality, were these a cry for help? Harry appeared to be leading in some cases similar to the average life of a young British boy- but instead in the public eye. Every single move of his was well documented by both the national and world press. Now as he has aged, he has reflected on the emotions that came about from his Mother’s death.

By discussing these emotions, this goes against royal protocol. The Royals have never been seen to discuss their feelings with the public, they remained silent and was a vision of strength to the country. Harry has admitted he sought counselling after his mother’s death, and by doing so he showed to the world it is okay to discuss our feelings. The charity Mind has called this ‘a true turning point’ in the discussions of mental health, as it ends the stigma surrounding mental health. Up until now various celebrities including Lady Gaga have discussed their issues with mental health, yet many did not feel that this was acceptable. We the British do not discuss our feelings, the Royal’s don’t so why would we? But now members of the royal family have signalled it is okay to do so, and thus will inspire so many out there to reach for help.

Today, mental health is a growing concern and so many people in Britain are affected- approximately one in six people will suffer with a mental health issue every week. Many people suffer will suffer in silence, as opening up about mental health is such a hard topic to do so. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge have stated that they intend to ensure that both Prince George and Princess Charlotte will feel comfortable enough to be able to come to them and discuss their emotions. Whilst this may seem an obvious thing for a parent to do, here in Britain we do still have this ‘stiff upper lip’ culture- and it is hoped that by members of the Royal family talking out it will encourage many in the UK to do so.

With William soon to be King in the next few decades, it is hoped his reign will be a modern approach. He and his brother’s actions to promote help for mental health issues can be seen to be a signal for the new era, in which it is okay to talk. Both Harry and William now provide a strong role model for people who do suffer in silence- two young boys who in wealth and property have it all yet they too suffer. Grief is a common cause of mental health problems in the UK and so by the Princes being vocal with their emotions to the public it is hoped that we will shun this ‘stiff upper lip’ culture in order to really grasp and help the huge issue of mental health problems in the UK today.


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February 2021
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