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Prince Harry was only 12 when he lost his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in a tragic car accident. He struggled, obviously, and explained in a documentary that aired Monday in the U.K. how he used to keep quiet about it. But as time’s gone by he’s learned that while it’s OK to suffer, it might have been easier to grieve if he talked about the devastating loss.

Prince Harry in Africa focuses on Harry’s work with Sentebale, his charity in Lesotho but, naturally, talk turns to Diana, whose tireless efforts in Africa are living on, thanks to Harry. He admits, though, that he spent a long time suppressing his feelings about his mother’s death.

“I’d never really dealt with what had actually happened, so there was a lot of buried emotion and, for a huge part of my life, I didn’t even want to think about it,” he said. I now view life differently from what it used to be.”

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Getty Images

“I used to bury my head in the sand … I was fighting the system, going, ‘I don’t want to be this person,'” he explained of the years following Diana’s death. “My mother died when I was very, very young and I don’t want to be in the position. Now I’m so energized, fired up, to be lucky enough to be in a position to make a difference.”

And what a difference he’s making. Harry has found meaning through his charity work, whether it’s his mental health campaign Heads Together with Will and Kate, the Invictus Games that he supports for injured, wounded and sick servicemen and women or his efforts with Sentebale. As he continues her legacy, carrying on unfinished work she never got the chance to complete, we know Diana would be proud of the man her son as become.

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Getty Images