Prince Harry’s deep rift with his family is casting a shadow over the Invictus Games, veterans ‘caught up in the royal crossfire’ have claimed.
The Duke of Sussex’s time with the Army in Afghanistan inspired him to launch the sporting event in 2014 but the Prince and Princess of Wales were central to its initial success.
The couple’s now-defunct foundation, which they formed with the duke, 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 games in London – but the new King and his heir have had zero involvement since Harry met Meghan.
Despite Harry’s passion for Invictus, which is growing in size, officials say there have been plenty of spare seats at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Dusseldorf. Some believe the involvement of King Charles, William and Kate would change that.
The Waleses have both been at the Rugby World Cup in France in the past week while Charles and Queen Camilla and other senior royals have been at the Highland Games.
One Team GB insider told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The athletes find it bizarre but don’t want to get caught up in the royal crossfire.’
Harry whispers in his wife Meghan’s ear as they attend the Invictus Games in Dusseldorf
William, Charles and Harry attend the first Invictus Games in London in 2014
Invictus has grown in size each year but veterans feel the absence of other royals
Meghan smiles to the crowds at an event last night
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex cheer on the US basketball team at the Games yesterday
At one point, the tension gets too much for Harry as he looks away during the game
Harry, who launched the Games nine years ago, points something out to his laughing wife
The Duchess of Sussex hands out medals to the winning USA wheelchair basketball team
The Duchess hugged some of the stars of the tournament
Harry and Meghan at the medal presentation of the wheelchair basketball
The Duchess of Sussex was very vocal as she watched one of the events yesterday
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 the applause, dancing in the crowd and joking about going out on the beers at the end of the day.
He was in high spirits in the days before Meghan arrived, high-fiving children and singing Sweet Caroline.
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 is credited with inspiring the duke to launch Invictus, said he understood both sides of the ‘rift’ between the brothers. But he added that they should have put their differences aside.
He told The Daily Telegraph: ‘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 Royal Family members never involve themselves in others’ professional endeavours, and they would not expect the duke to voice support for William’s Earthshot Prize, for example.
One critic of Harry said: ‘Harry has never supported any of [the] latest [of] William‘s projects, not Earthshot when he is president of African Parks and an advocate for climate change… but they insist William must support Invictus. I’m so tired of this nonsense.’
The Prince and Princess of Wales have both been at the Rugby World Cup in France in the past week
Harry and Meghan share a private moment
Harry and Meghan are now the only two royals involved in the games. William and Kate had supported it in the past
Meghan attends the medal ceremony and hands over a medal to the winning team
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seen at the wheelchair basketball final between the United States and France
Prince Harry speaks enthusiastically to a Team GB supporter
Meghan meets Nigerian athlete Glory Essien during day three of the Invictus Games
Earlier this month King Charles attended the Highland Games, an event which was a firm favourite of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II, with Camilla.
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, 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.’
King Charles and Queen Camilla attend the Braemar Highland Gathering on September 2
William and Camilla laugh during the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in 2014
The Invictus Games is one of the 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 trailed by dozens of 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 joined him at the games and the pair were seen smiling and rejoicing as they watched the events.
The Duchess was seen sporting a stars and stripes badge as she cheered her home country on in the wheelchair basketball game between USA and France yesterday.
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