Prince Harry Responds Passionately To Veterans Amid US Military Award Controversy

The Duke of Sussex has spoken out for the first time after facing criticism for receiving an honor named after a US military hero.

Prince Harry congratulated UK service members and veterans participating in the inaugural Invictus Games, which will include winter sports for the first time.

Harry was set to receive an award named after the late Pat Tillman, who left his professional American football career to join the US Army following 9/11. He was eventually slain in Afghanistan.

Serena Williams, a tennis star, will present the honor to Harry, who has completed two deployments in Afghanistan, during an ESPN ceremony.

However, the choice to award him the honor has been criticized, including by Mr Tillman’s own mother, sparking demands for reconsideration and even a petition encouraging the sports network to select a different laureate. Over 70,000 individuals have signed a petition on, echoing her opinion.

The sports network justified its choice in a statement, praising Harry’s “incredible” work with the Invictus Games.

The Royal British Legion and Ministry of Defence have named a 64-strong Team UK for the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler in February. The roster includes 60 participants and four reserves.

Harry, pictured in 2012, was in the military for 10 years (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Archive)

Harry expressed his enthusiasm for their “passion, determination, and resilience”.

“Congratulations to those selected for Team UK for our first-ever Winter Invictus Games in Vancouver Whistler next February,” according to him.

“Team UK will compete with over 500 competitors from 20 countries in this ground-breaking event that broadens the scope and visibility of winter adaptive sports.

“These games provide a wonderful opportunity for our brave service members and veterans to showcase their abilities in new challenges such as alpine skiing, snowboarding, and skeleton, while also offering a really unforgettable event for their family.

“We’re excited to see their passion, determination, and resilience on full display as they take on this new chapter.”

The former Royal Navy chief has advised Harry to “think long and hard” about accepting the Pat Tillman award.

Admiral Lord Alan West, who led the Royal Navy from 2002 to 2006, told MailOnline that accepting the medal would “travel well with people in the military” and would be “rather bad publicity”.

“I really think Harry should be well advised to sit back and not accept awards like this,” said a Labour colleague.

“It does not go well with those in the military. And if the mother of the deceased man does not want him to get this prize, he should consider that.

“My advise to him is to sit back and not accept any prizes at this time. They’re going his way because of his huge status, which people want to take advantage of.”

“He ought to think very hard and long about accepting awards for things like being an exceptional pilot and being exceptionally brave,” according to Lord Alan.

The UK Team for the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler consists of individuals from various services and generations who have endured physical and mental impairments while serving in the UK, both at home and abroad.

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