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James Middleton says Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte are ‘lucky’

The younger brother of the Princess of Wales has been frank about his mental health

Meredith Clark
New York
Wednesday 31 May 2023 06:29 BST
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Princess Kate hugs and comforts crying little girl

James Middleton, the younger brother of the Princess of Wales, has spoken candidly about mental health and why he believes his sister’s children are “lucky” in a new interview.

Speaking to OK! Magazine, the 36-year-old entrepreneur opened up about his past struggles with depression – which he previously referred to as a “cancer of the mind” – and credited his pets for saving his life.

“It’s still challenging to talk about it, but actually the role that my dogs played was fundamental in my recovery and my rehabilitation,” he recently told the outlet. “My dog Ella, in particular, was my reason to get up in the morning, my reason to get dressed and go outside and go for a walk – even if it was pouring with rain.”

He explained how the 15-year-old black spaniel Ella, who passed away earlier this year, “unintentionally helped” overcome his mental health struggles. “You go outside for 10 or 15 minutes, get that fresh air and you suddenly forget what was traumatising you,” James said.

“That respite from the thing that was banging away in my mind and causing me to not function properly was unintentionally helped by Ella and the rest of my dogs.”

James added, “I think they played such an important role to the point that I do think they’ve saved my life.”

The youngest brother of Princess Kate and Pippa Middleton went on to share that he was “devastated” that his family didn’t have dogs growing up, so he would “write letters to my parents to try to convince them to let me have one”.

It wasn’t until he was a teenager that the Middleton family finally adopted their first dog, Tilly. The golden retriever, who died six years ago aged 17, appeared in the Prince and Princess of Wales’ first official portrait with their baby son Prince George alongside the couple’s cocker spaniel, Lupo, in 2013.

The photo taken by Michael Middleton, the Duchess's father, of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they sit with their son Prince George and cocker spaniel Lupo in the garden of the Middleton family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire (TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 2013/Press Association)

In fact, Lupo was given to the royal couple by James when they married in 2011. When the black cocker spaniel sadly died nine years later, their current spaniel Orla was gifted to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis by their uncle.

“I’m really pleased that they are able to enjoy and have the benefit of a dog in their lives,” he said of his nephews and niece. “I see them being lucky that they have a dog in their life.”

James Middleton previously opened up about his difficult battle with depression in a 2019 essay for The Daily Mail. Describing it as “an absence of feelings”, the youngest child of Michael and Carole Middleton revealed that his mental health struggles made him unable to communicate with his family.

“I also felt misunderstood; a complete failure,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish the sense of worthlessness and desperation, the isolation and loneliness on my worst enemy. I felt as if I was going crazy.”

Though admitted that he’s “richly blessed and live a privileged life,” he added that “it did not make me immune to depression.”

A trip to the Lake District with his five dogs helped him come to the realisation that he needed to seek out help for his depression. He wrote, “And this recognition led to a sort of calm: I knew if I accepted help there would be hope. It was a tiny spark of light in the darkness.”

James Middleton married his wife, French financial analyst Alizee Thevenet, in 2021. He even credited his dog Ella for introducing him to his future wife. He previously described the moment to The Telegraph, in which they both were at the South Kensington Club in Chelsea when Ella “made a beeline” for Thevenet.

“Little did I know, I had just met my future wife, all thanks to Ella,” he shared. “If I hadn’t trusted Ella, I wouldn’t have brought her to the South Kensington Club and she wouldn’t have been able to say hi to the woman who became my fiancée.”

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