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It is a sad reality of divorce that friends usually have to pick a side.
Harry and Meghan’s royal separation is causing the same dynamic to emerge as a source of irritation at the prince’s Invictus Games event, currently underway in Germany.
Athletes at the games—wounded former service people—have expressed frustration that the ongoing row between Harry and his family seems to have cost them the support of the rest of the royals, despite the fact that William and Kate were instrumental in setting it up. They contributed to the costs in the early days of the games, which were established in 2014, and attended the opening of the first edition, when relations between Harry and his brother were warm.
Ben McBean, a double amputee who inspired Harry to launch the event, told the Telegraph’s royal correspondent Victoria Ward that he understood “both sides” of the conflict between the brothers, but added: “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.”
Ward also said that British team members were disappointed they have not been sent the good wishes of other members of the British establishment, usually sent as a matter of course to competitors in other international sporting events.
One source described as a “team insider” said: “The athletes find it bizarre but don’t want to get caught up in the royal crossfire.”
The absence of royal good wishes was evident in a recent Rugby World Cup podcast featuring the Prince and Princess of Wales and Princess Anne.
William praised the 2012 Paralympics as a “huge moment for disability sport taking off,” adding, “And it’s obviously got bigger and bigger since then.”
Four years ago it would have been unimaginable for William not to praise the Invictus Games at this juncture and his failure to do so was notable.
The podcast, released as a video filmed at Windsor Castle on YouTube, completely wiped Harry’s Invictus launch off newsfeeds.
However, Harry’s critics might argue that he cast the first stone here; when William had an event for his environmental charity Earthshot in the diary in Boston last December, for example, up popped the trailer for their new show Harry & Meghan. It was seen by many as a clear attempt to damage William’s efforts to promote Earthshot.
Indeed, former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, who was sitting on Netflix’s environmental advisory group and the Earthshot board at the time, said: “Netflix has been a leader on producing valuable content to educate on environmental issues. It is therefore disappointing that they air negative messages on the very same day as the Earthshot Prize.”
Former UN political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, who also sat on both boards, also criticised Netflix, saying; “The remarkable finalists and winners of the Earthshot Prize are changing the world. They deserve all attention and recognition so the timing of this release from Netflix, a sustainability content leader, is profoundly disappointing.”