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Prince William | Prince Harry | Source: Getty Images
Prince William | Prince Harry | Source: Getty Images

Prince Harry Wins Award for His Contribution to Sports for Veterans after Losing Military Role to Brother Prince William

Naomi Wanjala
Jun 28, 2024
06:15 A.M.

Forget MVPs, this year's ESPYs have a real-life prince taking center stage. Prince Harry is set to receive a prestigious award for his work that's changing the lives of veterans. But for the Duke of Sussex, the honor extends far beyond him, it's a win for the entire military community.

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Prince Harry is set to receive the esteemed Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2024 ESPY Awards. This accolade honors individuals with a deep connection to sports who have profoundly impacted others. The award reflects the legacy of the late NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger, Pat Tillman.

Prince Harry in Abuja, Nigeria on May 11, 2024. | Source: Getty Images

Prince Harry in Abuja, Nigeria on May 11, 2024. | Source: Getty Images

Harry's dedication to supporting the veteran community through sports has earned him this recognition. He served in the British military for a decade and his service included two tours in Afghanistan: one as an Apache helicopter pilot and the other as a forward air controller.

Prince Harry gathered with other British troops for a Remembrance Sunday service at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan on November 9, 2014 | Source: Getty Images

Prince Harry gathered with other British troops for a Remembrance Sunday service at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan on November 9, 2014 | Source: Getty Images

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After a decade-long career, Harry continued his service by founding The Invictus Games Foundation in 2014. This organization aims to help the injured, wounded, and sick servicemen and women, both active-duty and veterans. It helps them navigate physical and invisible injuries.

Since its founding, The Invictus Games has crossed international boundaries, touching lives on every continent. The Games currently bring together competitors from 23 nations and provides continuous support and programming year-round.

Prince Harry Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation at the Honourable Artillery Company on May 07, 2024, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

Prince Harry Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation at the Honourable Artillery Company on May 07, 2024, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, The Invictus Games has become a globally acclaimed organization. The foundation fosters resilience, community, and healing through the transformative power of sports. "This one is for our entire service community," Harry remarked upon learning of the upcoming honor.

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Harry co-founded the foundation with Sir Keith Mills, an entrepreneur who organized the 2012 London Olympics. During a panel discussion with Keith at London's Honourable Artillery Company, Harry reflected on the early days of planning for the 2014 Games.

Prince Harry departs the Rolls Building of the High Court after giving evidence during the Mirror Group phone hacking trial on June 6, 2023, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

Prince Harry departs the Rolls Building of the High Court after giving evidence during the Mirror Group phone hacking trial on June 6, 2023, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

He admitted uncertainty about its potential success. The idea for The Invictus Games took root during Harry's 2012 trip to the United States, where he attended the Department of Defense's Warrior Games.

"Sport was the magic that I witnessed," Harry recalled. Having returned from Afghanistan, he saw the profound impact on wounded, injured, and sick service members and their families.

Prince Harry attends The Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service at St Paul's Cathedral on May 8, 2024, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

Prince Harry attends The Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service at St Paul's Cathedral on May 8, 2024, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

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Recognizing the need for more support, Harry decided to expand on the Warrior Games model. Teaming up with Keith, the duo set out with a simple idea and a cup of tea. "We had this idea and not much else, frankly," Keith said.

The early months were challenging—they had no name, funding, or staff. But they had a vision, and it quickly grew into the Invictus Games, a beacon of hope and recovery for veterans worldwide.

Prince Harry attends The Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service at St Paul's Cathedral on May 8, 2024, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

Prince Harry attends The Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service at St Paul's Cathedral on May 8, 2024, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images

Prince Harry now joins an esteemed group of past Pat Tillman Award recipients. This distinguished list includes Jake Wood, who won the award in 2018, followed by Kirstie Ennis in 2019.

The list continues with Canadian boxer, Kim Clavel in 2020, English footballer Marcus Rashford in 2021, Retired US Army Command Sergeant Major, Gretchen Evans in 2022, and the Buffalo Bills Training Staff in 2023.

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ESPN signage is shown at Pier 17 ESPN Seaport District Studios on June 27, 2024, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

ESPN signage is shown at Pier 17 ESPN Seaport District Studios on June 27, 2024, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Kate Jackson, VP of Production at ESPN, expressed her excitement about the 2024 honorees. She highlighted the privilege of recognizing three incredible individuals: Steve Gleason, Prince Harry, and Dawn Staley.

Steve will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage while Dawn will receive the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

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Kate praised these honorees stating they have used their platforms to make the world more inclusive for marginalized and suffering communities. She also commended their incredible resilience, positivity, and perseverance. The 2024 ESPYS will air live on Thursday, July 11, on ABC.

The Duke of Sussex's affiliation with the Armed Forces runs deep. Like other royal family members, Prince Harry maintained official relationships with various military units and was once the Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps.

Queen Camilla and King Charles III visiting members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards on peacekeeping duties in Banja Luka, Bosnia on March 1, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

Queen Camilla and King Charles III visiting members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards on peacekeeping duties in Banja Luka, Bosnia on March 1, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

According to the official website for the King and Queen of England, the royal family regularly visits soldiers, airmen, and sailors. They focus on military units serving both domestically and internationally, recognizing and supporting their work.

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In May, King Charles III appointed his eldest son, Prince William, as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps. Buckingham Palace announced this role transfer, which took place on May 13 at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop.

King Charles III and Prince William ahead of the Committal Service for the late Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor, England on September 19, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

King Charles III and Prince William ahead of the Committal Service for the late Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor, England on September 19, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

The Palace disclosed that following King Charles' ascension, he was pleased to appoint military roles. This included naming Prince William as Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Corps, a position King Charles had held for 31 years as Prince of Wales.

Prince William during a visit to the Mercian Regiment in the South West, U.K. on November 23, 2023 | Source: Getty Images

Prince William during a visit to the Mercian Regiment in the South West, U.K. on November 23, 2023 | Source: Getty Images

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The announcement coincided with Prince Harry's trip to the U.K. to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Invictus Games, sparking public interest. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Prince William is taking on a role previously held by his younger brother, Prince Harry.

Prince William and Prince Harry during the Committal Service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor, England on September 19, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

Prince William and Prince Harry during the Committal Service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor, England on September 19, 2022 | Source: Getty Images

The timing of Prince William's new title fueled speculation, given the known tensions between Prince Harry and his father. Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams remarked that the very public nature of the rift between Prince Harry and King Charles III had complicated its resolution.

King Charles III and Prince Harry at the "International Year of The Reef" 2018 meeting in London, England on February 14, 2018 | Source: Getty Images

King Charles III and Prince Harry at the "International Year of The Reef" 2018 meeting in London, England on February 14, 2018 | Source: Getty Images

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He suggested that handling it privately might offer a better chance for reconciliation. The rift between Prince Harry and his father, King Charles III, remains profound. Even during Harry's visit to the U.K., a meeting between the two could not be arranged, igniting strong public reactions.

King Charles III and Prince Harry at the "International Year of The Reef" 2018 meeting in London, England on February 14, 2018 | Source: Getty Images

King Charles III and Prince Harry at the "International Year of The Reef" 2018 meeting in London, England on February 14, 2018 | Source: Getty Images

A spokesperson for Prince Harry clarified that it would not be possible for the Duke to meet his father during his visit due to the King's full schedule. The statement emphasized that Harry understands his father's busy commitments and hopes to see him soon.

King Charles III and Prince Harry chatting during the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli event in Gallipoli, Turkey on April 25, 2015 | Source: Getty Images

King Charles III and Prince Harry chatting during the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli event in Gallipoli, Turkey on April 25, 2015 | Source: Getty Images

King Charles III's packed agenda included his return to public duties following his cancer diagnosis and treatment. He held an audience at Buckingham Palace with the Prime Minister of Fiji, Sitiveni Rabuka.

The King was also occupied with the season's first garden party at Buckingham Palace on May 8, further highlighting his numerous responsibilities.

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