Prince Harry was told by a member of staff to wrap up his chat with a grieving woman, but the Royal refused to cut the heartfelt conversation short.
As part of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s visit to Australia, the 34-year-old Prince donned a harness and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge to raise the flag for the Invictus Games.
A few members of the public were able to join the Royal on his adventure, one of whom was 41-year-old Gwen Cherne.
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Today, HRH Duke of Sussex and PM @scottmorrisonmp together with a group of very special Australian Invictus competitors raised the Invictus flag atop Sydney Harbour Bridge to mark the opening of the @invictusgames2018. From everyone here at BridgeClimb, we wish all those participating in the Games all the very best. #GameOnDownUnder #IG2018 #RoyalVisitAustralia
According to People, Gwen shared her story with Prince Harry, telling him about her late husband, 48-year-old Australian Special Forces officer, Peter J. Cafe, who committed suicide early last year.
Pete joined the special forces in 2012, but suffered a stroke while deployed in Iraq in 2016.
Gwen explained her late husband’s situation to People, saying:
When you’re in a high-performing environment, like the Special Forces, when you’re not performing at your highest, you can tell that. That created a lot of anxiety and pressure for him
As Prince Harry and Gwen made their way back down the bridge to ground level, the pair spoke for nearly 10 minutes, with the father-to-be asking Gwen about her three children, Emily, Lachlan, and stepson Tom, and how she and her family were coping.
The 41-year-old relayed the conversation:
Lachlan is the spitting image of my husband. Harry said something like the children must remind you of him, or live on in him, and I said my son is so much like him. It was comfortable and thoughtful.
Gwen believed Prince Harry’s experience of loss, after losing his mother Diana when he was just 12 years old, helped him to understand how she felt.
Gwen, who works closely with US-based Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, continued:
He understood what I meant. When you understand loss, I think it’s obvious. He did ask me if I was getting the support I need from the Defence and ex-servicemen and veteran community.
We were talking about my story and mental health and how difficult it is still, in our society, to talk about grief and loss and suicide.
And how important things like the Invictus Games are to shedding light on, and allowing people to start to have these conversations that are great to have.
In the midst of their conversation, the Royal’s entourage tried to encourage him to bring the conversation to a close so they could move on from the outing.
However, despite his busy schedule, Prince Harry made it clear he wanted to make time to speak to Gwen.
According to Gwen, the Prince responded to the staff by saying:
I’m in a middle of a conversation, and I’m not going to leave this.
Gwen spoke about how Harry’s creation of the Invictus Games – a sporting event for wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans – gives people hope.
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With one day to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, the flag was raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and climbed by: Gwen Cherne, director of the War Widows’ Guild of NSW; Peter Rudland, Ruth Hunt and Luke Hill from the Australian Invictus Games Team, His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and The Honourable Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia. #IG2018 #GameOnDownUnder @weareinvictusgames @scottmorrisonmp 📷 Penny Bradfield | Auspic | DPS
We are not dealing with the daily losses we have or the major losses of a husband or a son.
Heaven forbid we actually talk about suicide and the real causes of it and that it is more complicated than just one issue on one day.
The fact that [Harry] and Meghan are shining their light on the Invictus Games, highlighting for so many people the service and sacrifices the serving members and their families – and highlighting the families – gives people hope.
[Harry and Meghan] are doing so much good with their place in the world, using their power and their privilege.
Many of our leaders could learn from that. They are changing peoples’ lives because of it.
They are changing the way we are looking at mental health globally because they care, they are paying attention to it, and flying that Invictus Games. That is changing – and saving – lives every single day.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you.
They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.