Prince Harry Opens Up About How Ayahuasca Helped Him Heal After Losing His Mom
The British media has had a field day ragging on Prince Harry's use of ayahuasca, saying it wasn't racism, but rather the "drug" that spawned "Megxit."
Published on January 13, 2023

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Few pop culture bombs have caused an explosion quite like Prince Harry’s recent disclosures about his family in England’s monarchy. 60 Minutes aired an episode this week in which the estranged royal says that ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms helped him deal with the lingering trauma from losing his mother, Princess Diana. 

“I would never recommend people to do this recreationally, but doing it with the right people, if you are suffering from a huge amount of loss, grief, or trauma—then these things have a way of working as a medicine,” Harry told 60 Minutes host Anderson Cooper, adding that he used the drugs under a therapist’s care.

“For me [the drugs] cleared away … the misery of loss,” continued Harry when Cooper asked what the substances had taught him. “They cleared away this idea that I had in my head that my mother—that I needed to cry to prove to my mother that I missed her. When in fact, she wanted me to be happy.”

The interview coincided with the release of Harry’s memoir Spare, which his publisher Penguin Random House says sold more copies on its first day out —1.4 million! — than any other of their non-fiction titles. Harry’s six-part Netflix special with his wife Meghan Markle dropped last month.  

Given the intense controversy that’s swirled around Harry and Meghan, perhaps it’s no surprise the British media is running with drug commentary. The Daily Mail published an article called “Are psychedelic drugs to blame for Prince Harry’s blistering attack on Royals?” It looks to pin the couple’s defection from the royal family on Harry’s consumption of psychedelics.

The piece does call upon expert opinion to support its conclusions. Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist Matthew Johnson says that psychedelic drugs can sometimes generate “greater resentment for loved ones.”

Johnson’s testimony is used by the article’s author to suggest that “Megxit” was caused by Harry doing drugs. There’s just one problem (besides, well, common sense): Johnson has come forward to say that he regrets being interviewed for the article.

“Many of my words were distorted or out of context,” the medical professional tweeted on Wednesday. “Biased & distasteful.”

“No reason whatsoever to conclude that increased openness/suggestibility is responsible for someone with family conflicts just because they have used psychedelics in the past,” Johnson continued. “Completely speculative & not a service to the public.”

Prince Harry is not the only celebrity who has spoken publicly on the effects that ayahuasca have had on them. Will Smith told David Letterman in an interview that one of his trips was “the individual most hellish psychological experience of my life,” though the ayahuasca ultimately taught Smiths valuable lessons about his own resiliency. NFL player Aaron Rodgers went so far as to credit the drug for his back-to-back MVP league titles, calling one occasion when he did both mushrooms and ayahuasca (one after the other, not concurrently) as “one of the best days” of his life.

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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