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Prince Harry's Invictus vision is so admirable. But he can’t stop playing the victim


Given that the Invictus Games is the very best of Prince Harry, it is almost impossible to criticise his role in its inception and his appearances in Heart Of Invictus, the new five-part Netflix docu-series that focuses on the work and achievements of this very worthy organisation. But that is no reason not to try.


Let's start with some of the grandiose but essentially empty language Prince Harry uses in his Invictus speeches, in that familiar, self-righteous, hectoring tone that suggests no one is doing enough about anything except him.


'The world needs to be reminded of the power of the human spirit,' he booms in episode four, during his 2022 opening address to the Invictus Games in The Hague. What? Hold it right there, buster. Who on earth writes this guff for him?


Can I just press pause to say that no one is oblivious to the obvious? Millions are inspired by the power of the human spirit every day of the week. Indeed, few fail to be moved by its limitless capacity for resilience and beauty, for the endless bounty it gives to humanity.




From the recent plight of students stuck on a broken cable car in Pakistan, plucked from certain death by a daring rescue mission, to the four children who survived 40 days alone in the Amazon rainforest living on foraged fruit, the human spirit is among us, flourishing. Like being hurt, bereaved or misunderstood, it is not something upon which this embittered, exiled royal has a monopoly.


And that is the problem. Every time I want to warm to Harry, I am repelled by his huffy, unconscious entitlement and piercing sense of victimhood; as if he were the only one in the world ever to have suffered.


To his credit, he shines a spotlight on these soldiers, these men and women with life-changing injuries. They were maimed in the service of their own countries, for doing what was asked of them by their government.


What is compelling about Invictus is that it makes us look at them and the triumph of their truncated lives instead of looking away. It makes us think about the sacrifice they have made for freedom and for us.


Yet it takes a special kind of able-bodied person to bear witness to the limbless and the wounded, the 'double amps', the blind and the horribly maimed, and then talk about losing his mother at the age of 12.


Prince Harry is that person. 'I was unable to cry, unable to feel,' he says in one episode, a theme he returns to again and again.


'When it all came fizzing out, I was bouncing off the walls,' he says. Elsewhere he was 'lying on the floor in a foetal position' and takes the opportunity to complain about a lack of support from his family and how he should have been given therapy earlier.


Indeed, throughout all five parts of this glossy, well-produced series there are multiple trigger warnings about mental health issues and exhortations for those who are in torment to seek help.


Yet after all his years in therapy, is Harry really the best advert for its benefits? Sometimes he sounds as if he is still brined in the same old pickle.


'I found myself, I now need to get a glass jar and put myself in, leave the lid open and my therapist said, 'You choose what comes in and everything else bounces off',' he says, an explanation that is as clear as malt vinegar.


That is not to say the Invictus Games and those who take part in them are not truly inspiring, they are. We learn early on how the Prince was motivated to start Invictus by the sight of wounded soldiers sharing his repatriation flight back from Afghanistan in 2013.


How could he help ease their trauma and give new meaning to their shattered lives? Through sport, he thought, rather brilliantly. His inspiration is commendable, his energy in making this vision a reality is to be admired. Hugely.


Compare Prince Harry's Invictus contribution to humanity to any philanthropic impact made by Prince Andrew, his do-nothing dumpling of an uncle, and one sees with clarity who is by far the better man.


Yet like a blue vein of pain running through the cheese of peeve, Harry cannot stop himself from playing a misbegotten blame game.


His belief that the Afghan war and its military casualties were not covered by the UK Press is an unforgivable, lazy untruth; a slur on all those war correspondents who risked their lives covering the conflict — and indeed, some of whom never came home.


The Duchess of Sussex is a glamorous, supportive but wispy presence in the docu-series


Prince Harry's endless war against British newspapers is sometimes unfathomable, as his ongoing ignorance suggests he has never actually read one.


The Duchess of Sussex is a glamorous, supportive but wispy presence. She attends a few Invictus meetings, wears a scarlet ballgown to accompany Harry to a veterans' gala in New York in episode two and describes him as 'my incredible husband' in episode four.


And he is incredible, not just for allowing himself to be glutinously introduced, in the very first episode, as 'the humanitarian, environmentalist, mental wellness advocate and military veteran, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex'.


Sound the trumpets!


In the end, Heart Of Invictus is a search for validation and healing, as much for Prince Harry as anyone else.

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