Prince Harry says fatherhood has made him feel the loss of his mother Princess Diana more keenly.
While the Duke of Sussex feels newborn son Archie has ‘given him a new focus and goal in his life’, he is said to have opened up about how the birth has made him feel the loss of his mum in 1997 when he was just 12.
During his bike ride around the Zuiderpark , Harry, 34, opened up to Dennis van der Stroon, 31, a former soldier who hopes to compete for The Netherlands Invictus team in track and field and sitting volleyball at next year’s games in The Hague.
Dennis, who served in the army from 2006 until 2011, described his conversation with Harry as “amazing and emotional” as the pair cycled together around site for next year’s Invictus Games.
He said that once the pair were away from the cameras Harry opened up about his new son and spoke of how becoming a father poignantly reminded him of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
“At a certain moment, we just got connected on this level,” said Dennis.
“We talked about how my wife, Mireille, is 20 weeks pregnant with our first child, a girl, and he told me how special it was that his son has just been born.
“Harry talked about how having a small child was his new focus and new goal and I told him how a couple of months ago, I was struggling with my mental health but my wife’s pregnancy has given me a goal.
“Above all he said he was just amazed by the miracles in the world, and how his child has made a lot of people happy.
“He also told me he’s really happy that his son is so far very quiet.
“But he also told me not to make too many plans and that there’s no way you can plan for when the baby arrives.”
Dennis was a Corporal First Class and served on operations in Uruzgan, Afghanistan, during 2008 and 2009.
“I was involved in a couple of IED strikes and though nobody was wounded, the whole experience was like living with 24/7 anxiety and stress.”
Dennis left the army in 2011 and started to train as a nurse the following year.
But in 2014 his mother, Marion, died aged 58 from chronic lung disease, and in 2015 he was diagnosed with PTSD, triggering what he described as a “domino effect” of mental health issues.
“I told Harry about my mother and we talked about our shared experience of missing a mum,” said Dennis.
“He said missing a mother is like missing some kind of security, how you need that as a son and it falls away when you lose your mother.
“He said he meets a lot of people in his work who have lost a mother, father, sister, brother or relatives and when he hears their story, as he heard my story, he said he doesn’t feel so alone.”
Dennis said that in memory of his late mother, he and his wife will call their daughter Sterre [Dutch for Star] Willemijn Marion.