Prince Harry’s ESPN Award is ‘Terrible PR’ for Troubled Royal – Expert

Prince Harry is claimed to be “stunned” by the anger he’s getting as he prepares to accept an award named after a slain soldier and young NFL player.

ESPN earlier announced that the Duke of Sussex would receive this year’s prestigious Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2024 ESPY Awards, which will be held on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Hilary Fordwich, a British royal specialist, told Fox News Digital that Harry should have respectfully refused the honor in light of the situation.

“His refusal to turn down the Pat Tillman Award, despite suffering a furious backlash with the petition urging ESPN to reconsider its decision… tangibly shows how his popularity has plummeted,” Fordwich told reporters.

“The latest to lash out at him is Admiral Lord Alan West, Former Royal Navy Chief and Labour peer, saying that ‘he ought to think very hard and long’ about accepting this particular award as it ‘doesn’t travel well with people in the military,'” according to Fordwich. “… He further added to ‘sit back and not accept awards like this.'”

“This entire debacle points to Harry’s lack of experience and understanding of the commercial sector, the… world he has chosen to operate in,” Fordwich droned on. “ESPN wants to honor Harry not for what he has done, since many others have done and accomplished more, per [Tillman’s mother] Mary Tillman, but because it generates huge publicity for them whilst harming Harry with exceptionally bad publicity.”

However, not everyone agrees.

“It’s rare that I find myself coming to Prince Harry’s defense these days, but in this instance, I have to,” Christopher Andersen, author of “The King,” told Fox News Digital. “It is not Harry’s fault that he received the Pat Tillman Award. What was he suppose to do? Turn it down? “How tacky would that have been?”

The younger son of King Charles III, who served in the British Army for ten years, is being acknowledged for his contributions to the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded service members and women. The 39-year-old established the international event in 2014, a year before retiring from active military.

“Harry obviously considered it a great honor and given what he has done for wounded veterans through his Invictus Games, the Duke of Sussex certainly seemed a logical choice,” Andersen claimed.

“Harry is so proud of his military service and Invictus that it’s no wonder he is stunned by the backlash,” Andersen says. “First, his grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, stripped him of his ceremonial military titles and clothes, and now this. Harry is used to being chastised, but this is real anguish for him.”

It is thought that Harry has no plans to decline the honor.According to The Telegraph, Harry was “stunned” by the heat and described it as “a bitter pill to swallow.”

“Harry’s legacy at Invictus, the things he has accomplished, is his true passion,” a source told the newspaper. “This is the place where he actually feels at home, and it is very important to him. The reaction really took the gloss off the trophy.”

The announcement sparked controversy when Mary Tillman, the late hero’s mother, said she was never informed on the decision to bestow Harry with the distinguished distinction.

“I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award,” the matriarch told the UK’s Daily Mail.

“There are recipients that are far more fitting,” she told the audience. “There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans.”

Mary suggested that ESPN should have chosen someone who had never been in the spotlight and emphasized their courageous efforts.

“I have said everything I will say on this subject,” Mary told Fox News Digital.

Mary is not linked with the Pat Tillman Foundation, which has been selecting honorees since the award’s inception in 2014. Mary has never been consulted or informed about recipients in the past.

ESPN commentator Pat McAfee accused the network of “trying to piss people off” by selecting the prince.

According to the New York Post, McAfee stated on his talk program, “It’s going to Prince Harry, who I don’t even think is a prince anymore, right?” “He said, don’t call me that. Why do the ESPYs do this s–t?

Tillman became a hero to many when he left a lucrative NFL contract and a newlywed spouse to join the Army following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His death in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2004 — subsequently determined to be the result of friendly fire — struck an even deeper impact. He was 27.

“There has been a fierce backlash against Harry getting the Pat Tillman award,” royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams told Fox News Digital. “The Invictus Games, which help wounded military personnel, both serving and veterans, which he created a decade ago, is given as the reason for the award.”

“It is truly a wonderful achievement. However, the Pat Tillman Award is for service, and Harry, after a decade in the military and two tours of duty in Afghanistan, had no sense of true devotion when he and Meghan Markle stepped aside from royal duties, exploited his royal connections, and publicly trashed his family.

“The Sussexes conducted a kind of guerrilla war against the monarchy, which cast a shadow over Queen Elizabeth’s final years,” he said. “… Nearly 70,000 people have signed a petition opposing him winning this prize, making it highly contentious. The way he has behaved reflects on his character, which many believe is undesirable.

Andersen said it’s clear why ESPN chose to honor Harry this year.

“By choosing Prince Harry, I’m sure ESPN felt to some degree that it was elevating the award,” Andersen told me. “People are failing to see the bigger picture here. How many additional millions of people have learned about the Pat Tillman Award because it is being given to Harry?”

“There was a similar uproar in January when Harry was inducted into the ‘Living Legends of Aviation’ Hall of Fame because of his service as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan,” Andersen wrote. “But it’s not the same thing. Harry may not be a ‘Living Legend of Aviation,’ but he has developed a reputation as an advocate for critically injured service members.”

A representative from ESPN reported to Fox News Digital: “ESPN, with the support of the Tillman Foundation, is honoring Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, specifically for the work of The Invictus Games Foundation as it celebrates its 10th year promoting healing through the power of sport for military service members and veterans around the world.”

“While we understand not everyone will agree with all honorees selected for any award, The Invictus Games Foundation does incredible work and ESPN believes this is a cause worth celebrating.”

Jake Wood, a U.S. Marine who earned the award in 2018, told TMZ that Harry is a “natural fit” for the medal due to his military past and work with veterans.

Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro Jr., who got the award in 2017, also told the site that Harry deserves it.

Ian Pelham Turner, a royal scholar, commented that the criticism Harry has received appears harsh given his heritage.

“Harry should receive the award,” Pelham Turner told Fox News Digital. “He is a proven soldier with a distinguished war record in Afghanistan and has fought tirelessly for veterans to be supported and valued.”

“If [Mary] Tillman is not fully aware of his great public service to veterans, she should be made aware and apologize for the stress she has created,” he told me. “The issue is caused by negative criticism of his character and values…” I hope Harry maintains his outstanding veteran service and finally has real decorations on his breast, comparable to King Charles.

“There’s no way of telling how much this newest controversy is hurting the reputation of the Invictus Games themselves,” Andersen noted. “Some veterans in the UK have called for Harry to step down from the Games, claiming they have become ‘too royal.'” That simply will not happen. Invictus is Harry’s baby, period.

Since leaving royal duties in 2020 and relocating to California with his wife, the Duke of Sussex has had strained relations with the royals. The pair claims that the unpleasant intrusions and racial attitudes of the British media motivated the relocation.

 

 

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