After a period of relative calm, Prince Harry reopened old wounds with fresh swipes at the Royal Family today, claiming no one helped him as his life ‘unravelled’ after returning from Afghanistan.
The Duke of Sussex used a new Netflix documentary series to air his gripes following months where the once-regular blasts at the royals from the California-based prince had seemingly subsided.
In his Heart of Invictus documentary series, focusing on his sporting tournament for injured veterans, Harry said he felt no emotion and was unable to cry when he came home from war and finally confronted the trauma of losing his mother.
The duke said his biggest struggle was that ‘no one around me could really help’ – despite the fact that in 2017 he credited his brother Prince William with being ‘a huge support’.
Tonight several sources with knowledge of the situation over the years raised eyebrows at Harry’s claims. While stressing they would not belittle his personal experiences, one suggested he had an ‘ongoing selective memory’.
The Duke of Sussex used a new Netflix documentary series to air his gripes following months where the once-regular blasts at the royals from the California-based prince had seemingly subsided
Warrior prince: Prince Harry pictured in Helmand province in 2007 during his tour of Afghanistan
Harry served two Army tours in Afghanistan, writing in his biography Spare how he had killed 25 Taliban insurgents in his Apache helicopter. He said mental health was a ‘dirty word’ in 2008 when he served his first tour, and it was only when he returned from his second in 2013 that he became aware of the trauma he had kept bottled up since Princess Diana’s fatal car crash 16 years earlier.
He told the documentary: ‘I didn’t have that support structure, that network or that expert advice to identify what was actually going on with me. Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the foetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously.’
His claim, however, appears at odds with an interview he gave in 2017, in which he said: ‘My brother, you know, bless him, he was a huge support to me. He kept saying this is not right, this is not normal, you need to talk to [someone] about stuff, it’s OK.’
The five-part Netflix series charts the Invictus Games, the tournament for wounded service personnel regarded by many as Harry’s greatest achievement.
He set up the games to help rehabilitate injured soldiers, by giving them fresh purpose. He spoke proudly of how ‘wives, girlfriends, parents, grandparents, kids’ had told him, ‘thank you for bringing my dad back’ or ‘thank you for putting a smile back on my husband’s face’.
The Duchess of Sussex plays only a cameo role in the series, the latest project in the couple’s £80million deal with Netflix, making just a fleeting appearance in four of the five episodes.
In one episode, the duke is seen confiding to her about how nervous he is for his imminent speech at the Salute to Freedom gala in New York, in November 2021.
As they walk hand in hand into the gala, Harry tells her: ‘We haven’t done this in a while’, to which she replies ‘I know’ and Harry adds: ‘My heart… I’m like (mimics the noise of a rapid heartbeat) I’m nervous’.
In one episode of the Netflix series, Harry is seen confiding to Meghan about how nervous he is for his imminent speech at the Salute to Freedom gala in New York, in November 2021
Prince Harry pictured in comfy slippers in his new documentary series ‘Heart of Invictus’
The duke said he launched the Invictus Games in 2014 after seeing wounded soldiers when he flew home from Afghanistan in 2013
Other scenes show Meghan taking part in meetings and helping him prepare for a speech in The Hague. She is seen introducing her ‘incredible’ husband at the opening ceremony of last year’s games.
Harry starts episode one by answering the question ‘What do you do, Harry?’ by replying: ‘What do I do? Er, on any given day, I’m a dad of two under-three-year-olds; got a couple of dogs. A husband. I’m founding patron of Invictus Games Foundation.’ Filmed speaking to servicemen who suffered life-changing injuries, Harry shares his own insights.
He says: ‘Look, I can only speak to my own experience but from my tour of Afghanistan in 2012, flying Apaches, somewhere after that there was an unravelling.’
Talking to Canadian indoor rower Darrell Ling, the duke says: ‘I can’t pretend to know what you’ve been through, but I had that moment in my life where I didn’t know about it but because of the trauma of losing my mum when I was 12, for all those years, I had no emotion, I was unable to cry, I was unable to feel. I didn’t know it at the time.
‘And it wasn’t until later in my life, aged 28, there was a circumstance that happened that the first few bubbles started coming out and then suddenly it was like someone shook and it went “poof” – and then it was chaos. My emotions were sprayed all over the wall everywhere’.
The duke said he launched the Invictus Games in 2014 after seeing wounded soldiers when he flew home from Afghanistan in 2013.
His Netflix series follows veterans from the UK, US, Ukraine and Canada training and competing in the 2022 games in the Netherlands, telling how the tournament turned their lives around.
The Heart of Invictus series is being seen as part of the Sussexes’ attempt to rebrand themselves following a series of PR setbacks. Pressure is on the documentary to be a ratings success, after the couple’s lucrative media deal with Spotify ended in June following just one season of Meghan’s podcast Archetypes.
The release of Harry’s passion project comes as he and Meghan prepare to make their first public appearance together since May. She will join her husband part way through next month’s Invictus Games in Dusseldorf, a spokesman for the Sussexes confirmed.
Before the games, Harry will travel solo to the UK to attend an awards ceremony for WellChild, a charity of which he is patron, on September 7, the eve of the first anniversary of the Queen’s death.
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