‘A degree of jealousy’: Prince William surprised at the success of Harry’s Invictus Games

Princes William and Harry once-united at the inaugural 2014 Invictus Games.

Princes William and Harry once-united at the inaugural 2014 Invictus Games. Photo: Getty

An American TV news special on Prince Harry and the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games has revealed his older brother William was caught off guard by its global success and enduring popularity.

In an ABC-produced Prince Harry’s Mission: Life, Family and Invictus Games, Good Morning America‘s Will Reeve gained exclusive access to the Duke of Sussex on the ski slopes at Whistler in British Columbia, Canada for the Games’ one-year countdown celebration.

The 20-minute special revolves around Harry’s reason for starting the adaptive Games for wounded veterans, to his relationship with the Prince of Wales, and more recently his father, the King after his cancer diagnosis.

British royal correspondent Robert Jobson made a point about sibling rivalry.

Founded by Harry in 2014, he said it was Harry’s “No.1 passion project” after serving 10 years in the British Army.

“It’s been very successful since its outset,” Jobson said.

“It doesn’t come cheap, it costs a lot of money, and he’s been able to continue to raise that money throughout this period, which is impressive.”

“But I think there was a degree of jealousy about how well it had gone.

“I do think that William was surprised how much this had been such a success and how much money was being thrown into it and how many governments were getting involved,” Jobson added.

Sibling rivalry goes way back

In Harry’s 2022 memoir Spare, royal watchers made headlines of his brotherly fights, the British press, self-described salacious revelations, marrying Meghan Markle and eventually quitting the royal family in 2020.

In between all that was the very real story about how Harry, a British Army veteran who rose to the rank of captain and served two tours of Afghanistan, wanted to stay connected to that life.

While on a US royal tour to promote the rehabilitation of wounded British and American soldiers in 2013, Harry saw the Warrior Games in Colorado.

“A kind of Olympiad for wounded soldiers, with 200 men and women taking part, each of whom inspired me,” he writes.

Prince Harry with veterans preparing for the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler in 2025. Photo: Getty

On the flight back to the UK, Harry pencilled his vision for something similar.

“A version of those Warrior Games, but perhaps with more soldiers, more visibility, more benefits to participants … a Paralympics for soldiers from all over the world! In London’s Olympic Park!”

William – who was about to have his first child, George, with wife Kate – was “sorely irritated” from the outset after Harry pitched it to their Royal Foundation Board, and the concept getting the green light.

“He wished I’d run all this by him first … He complained that I’d be using up all the funds in the Royal Foundation. That’s absurd, I spluttered. I was told only a half-million-pound grant would be needed to get the games going,” Harry wrote.

According to Harry, William’s resistance to the games was rooted in “sibling rivalry”.

The next Games will attract 500 competitors and include new adaptive winter sports. Photo: AAP

The ‘reunifying effect’

Eight months later, the first Invictus Games were held in 2014 in London, and were attended by the late Queen.

Since walking away from the monarchy in 2020, Harry continued as patron with Invictus, even producing a Netflix documentary.

Royal commentator Victoria Murphy told the news special “Invictus no longer sits under the umbrella of organisations that the royal family officially are part of”.

“They haven’t mentioned it at all since Harry stepped back as a working royal.”

Prince Harry flew to the UK earlier this month following the King’s cancer diagnosis, but the estrangement continues.

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