Prince Harry set up the Invictus Games to help wounded, injured and sick veterans, but one expert believes he’s become a ‘tainted figurehead’ as he faces calls to step down

Prince Harry has been urged to step down from the Invictus Games, with one royal expert suggesting he has become a “tainted figurehead”.

The Duke of Sussex founded the games in 2014 as a way of helping wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans. However, around 2,000 ex-military have now left the games claiming the event has “lost its original meaning”.

Others are worried the Invictus Games have become “too royal” with the involvement of Meghan Markle. Royal author Tom Quinn has also suggested Harry “broke all the unwritten rules” of the army and questioned whether he will step down.

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READ MORE: King Charles ‘sends clear message to Harry and Meghan’ as reconciliation thrown into doubt

Prince Harry is facing criticism for his involvement in the Invictus Games (
Image:
2023 Getty Images)
Speaking exclusively to The Mirror, Quinn said: “Having founded the Invictus Games in 2014 in partnership with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Harry hates the idea of cutting his ties to an event in which he has a genuine personal interest, but many people in the military would dearly like him to just go away.”

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Indeed, GB News host Mark Dolan claimed: “About 2,000 ex-military have left the games, as they say it’s lost its original meaning. There are some former veterans who would like Harry to step down.”

Quinn continued: “He broke all the unwritten rules of his old regiment by publicly discussing the fact that he had killed 25 enemy combatants while serving as an attack helicopter pilot in Afghanistan in 2012-2013. If you’ve served in the military, you just don’t do this – apart from anything else it endangers the lives of serving soldiers.”

In his debut memoir, Spare, Harry said he flew on six missions that resulted in “the taking of human lives” and claimed to have taken out 25 Taliban fighters during two tours of Afghanistan. The Duke of Sussex also said that he didn’t think of those he killed as people but as “chess pieces” which were taken off the board. He described the insurgents as “baddies eliminated before they could kill goodies”.

Harry later said he revealed he’d killed more than two dozen enemies – a move feared to have put British troops and his own family in danger – for his own healing. Senior military figures and security experts blasted Harry amid fears his comments could lead to UK forces being targeted – with a former Navy chief branding him “very stupid”. It sparked protests in the Helmand province, with demonstrators carrying posters showing Harry’s portrait with a red ‘x’ across it. But the Duke told People magazine he revealed the number “for my own healing journey” and “in the hopes it will help others”.

The Duke of Sussex completed two tours of Afghanistan (
Image:
PA)
Quinn suggested it isn’t just senior military officers calling on Harry to step down from the Invictus Games. He told us: “It’s also the wounded veterans themselves; the one who actually take part in the Games.

“For many of them, Harry has broken the rules of camaraderie that bind all old soldiers.” The royal expert admitted he understands why Harry decided to open up about his time in the army.

Quinn said: “With his new Meghan-inspired desire to be open about everything in his life it’s easy to understand why Harry would discuss his kill total, especially as his ghost writer on Spare would have encouraged him to include this kind of attention-grabbing detail.

“Like it or not, soldiers expect reticence, not emotional tell-all outpourings. Harry is going to sense a certain amount of hostility at the Games but it may not be enough to persuade him to give up one of his few remaining ties to his old life.

“A number of veterans have also said that, much as they appreciate everything Harry has done and much as they appreciate his sincerity, they are deeply worried that he is diluting the message of the games – his endless legal cases, his row with his family and his decision to stop being a working royal, all distract from the message of the Games.”

Quinn also said Harry’s recent negative press could impact the games. “These distractions make Harry a tainted figurehead. The Invictus Games needs lots of good publicity; the sort of publicity you only get from a dutiful, working royal who doesn’t make waves. After all what is the military about if it is not about doing your duty uncomplainingly?” he said.

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