Harry and Meghan’s rift with Charles, William and Kate sparks Invictus Games row: Veterans question if Sussex stand-off has cost them more support from royals
Prince Harry’s deep rift with his family is casting a shadow over the Invictus Games with the absence of his brother Prince William particularly keenly felt, veterans ‘caught up in the royal crossfire’ have claimed.
Harry’s time in Afghanistan inspired him to launch the sporting event but the Prince and Princess of Wales were central to its initial success.
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The couple’s now-defunct foundation formed with the Duke of Sussex hoovered up sponsors and spent huge sums of cash to get Invictus up and running.
Nine years ago Harry, his father and brother stood united as they attended the opening ceremony and multiple events at the first ever Invictus Games in London – but the new King and his heir have had zero involvement since Harry met Meghan and they all fell out.
Officials have said that despite Harry’s passion for Invictus, which is growing in size, there have been plenty of seats at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Dusseldorf. Some believe that the involvement of Charles, William and Kate would change that.
The Prince and Princess of Wales have both been at the rugby World Cup in France in the past week while King Charles and Queen Camilla and other senior royals have been at the Highland Games.
One Team GB insider told The Telegraph: ‘The athletes find it bizarre but don’t want to get caught up in the royal crossfire.’
This year’s games in Germany are the biggest ever involving 22 nations and 500-plus athletes. Harry has been there from start to finish, joining in with clapping and dancing in the crowd, and joking about going out on the beers at the end of the day.
Many have enjoyed seeing the Harry of old, high fiving children and singing Sweet Caroline in the days before his wife Meghan arrived.
But there has been no word from his family in the UK.
Double amputee Ben McBean, who was on the same return flight from Afghanistan as Harry in 2008 and credited with inspiring the Duke to launch Invictus, said he understood both sides of the ‘rift’ between the brothers but added that they should have put their differences aside.
He told The Telegraph: ‘Saying that, they should have just given the lads a shout out. It’s like when we went to Afghanistan, no one supported the war, but they supported the troops. It’s the same thing’.
Palace sources reportedly say that members of the Royal family never involve themselves in each others’ professional endeavours, and they would not expect the Duke to voice support for the finalists of William’s Earthshot Prize, for example.
One critic of Harry said: ‘Harry has never supported any of latest William’s projects, not Earthshot when he is president of African Parks and advocate for climate change, no word about Homewards either but they insist William must supportInvictus. I’m so tired of this nonsense’.
Earlier this month King Charles attended the Highland Games – an event which was a firm favourite of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II – with the Duchess of Cornwall.
They were joined by Anne, Princess Royal, and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence at the games which have been a part of Scotland’s culture for hundreds of years.
Critics argue the royal family’s ‘ill-will’ towards Harry should not be held against the disabled veterans who are competing.
The Prince and Princess of Wales were integral in the early stages of the Invictus Games.
The Royal Foundation, which was shared by Prince Harry at the time – invested significant amounts of money in the event.
Meanwhile Harry’s brother Prince William continued with his charity work yesterday in London, visiting a building site to discuss the mental health of construction workers.
His sister-in-law Kate has also been carrying out royal visits this week, going to HMP High Down in Surrey on Tuesday to learn more about the work of an addiction charity.
King Charles III visited Tomintoul in the Cairngorms where he was welcomed by primary school children and community stalwarts.
An anonymous UK media strategist said: ‘It’s ironic Buckingham Palace has had more to say about the Highland Games than the Invictus Games, despite the honorary military roles they hold.
‘In doing so, the palace ends up looking mean-spirited and petty. The ill will against Harry should not be held against the Invictus competitors.’
The Invictus Games is one of the big projects that Prince Harry has continued since his departure from the royal family.
He was given a hero’s welcome in Germany by those attending the latest iteration of the competition he founded for wounded and disabled military veterans.
Harry arrived at the event trailed by dozens of excited schoolchildren who had been given time off from studies to attend.
He has said he plans to attend as many events as he can during the week-long competition.
On Tuesday, Meghan Markle joined the Duke at the games held at the Merkur Spiel-Arena, where the pair were seen smiling and rejoicing as they watched numerous sporting events.
The Duchess was seen sporting a stars and stripes badge as she cheered her home country on during the wheelchair basketball game between USA and France yesterday.