Prince Harry’s new documentary Heart of Invictus, in which he makes several questionable statements was aired yesterday on Netflix.
The five-part series centers on the Invictus Games, which he founded in 2014, and follows the tales of several injured military officers and servicemen as they prepare for the postponed 2020 Games in The Hague.
The Duke of Sussex appears throughout the series, with his wife Meghan Markle appearing very briefly, and discusses his 10-year tenure in the Army and how it affected him psychologically.
He said there was no “support” when Harry was suffering from PTSD, that the UK media disregarded news of British soldiers injured in Afghanistan, and that the British press forced him to be recalled from his deployment to Afghanistan.
However, previous TV interviews and a thorough examination of historical press coverage tend to refute these statements.
1. Harry received ‘no support’ when he returned from Afghanistan
Claim: After returning from his first tour in Afghanistan in 2008, Harry stated he lacked a strong “support network,” adding that “no one” in his family could help him.
The Duke of Sussex stated in the series that returning from his tour reignited his grief over the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
“There was an unraveling”, he said. “The trigger to me was actually returning from Afghanistan. But the stuff that was coming up was from the age of, 1997, from the age of 12.
“Losing my mom at such a young age, the trauma that I had, I was never really aware of. It was never discussed.”
Harry added: “The biggest struggle for me was … no one around me really could help. I didn’t have that support structure, that network, or that expert advice to identify what was actually going on with me.”
Claim debunked: In two previous interviews, Harry said that he received psychiatric help from the Army following his return from Afghanistan and that his brother was pivotal in convincing him to seek counseling to deal with the aftermath of his mother’s death.
Harry addressed the psychological treatment he received after serving in Afghanistan in a 2016 interview.
He said: “The Army put you through a day, two-day course on the way back through Cyprus, which is crucial to everybody.”
The Duke went on to remark that what they were told was priceless.
A second interview provided in 2017 appears to contradict his claim that he received no support.
Harry told Bryony Gordon that Prince William and many close friends persuaded him to seek counsel to deal with the aftermath of his mother’s death.
He remembered them telling him, “Look, you really need to deal with this.”
“It is not normal to think that nothing has affected you.”
Harry also told the Mad World podcast that his mental health issues were “not Afghanistan-related,” but stemmed from his mother’s death.
2. The media ignored stories about wounded British soldiers
Claim: Prince Harry aimed at the media, stating that the British press “did not cover” British troops who were injured in Afghanistan.
When a media embargo on his deployment was violated in 2008, the 38-year-old reported being evacuated from the war zone.
While Harry was sitting on the plane, a curtain flew open, revealing three young wounded soldiers with “bodies in pieces.”
He said: “I saw what only people had talked about. That was the real trigger to see the real cost of war. Not just those individuals but also their families and how their lives would change forever.
“Stepping off the plane I was angry at what happened to these guys, I was angry that the media weren’t covering it.”
Claim debunked: Conflict heroes and ex-military officials labeled the comments “offensive,” with the Sun newspaper pointing out its significant coverage of the conflict and support for soldiers and women.
The newspaper cited a 2007 campaign, started a year before Harry’s first visit to Afghanistan, in support of the Help for Heroes organization, which raised £370 million. In 2008, it also established the Sun Military Awards.
Ben Parkinson, an ex-Para and veterans’ campaigner who lost both his legs, broke his back, and suffered brain damage in 2006, also blasted the prince, telling the tabloid, “I have no idea what he’s talking about.” The Sun, and the media in general, have been amazing to me and given incredible support to my family.”
The war was frequently highlighted on the front pages of national newspapers, with reports of British military deaths and injuries in Afghanistan.
The BBC also continues to identify all 136 British troops who died there.
Dozens of journalists were also slain while covering the war, with the Committee to Protect Journalists reporting that 79 journalists have been killed while covering events in Afghanistan since 1992, with many more injured.
3. The British press ruined his tour to Afghanistan
Claim: When addressing his deployment to Afghanistan, Harry appears to insinuate that the UK media blew his cover.
He said: “The whole reason I was allowed to go to Afghanistan in the first place was because it was kept a secret.
“While I was there for the ten weeks no one knew apart from the British press who said ‘’we’ll keep quiet as long as we get access’.
“To suddenly be on the way home I was angry. But it was important for everyone around me – their safety – to remove me”
Claim debunked: However, word of his deployment was exposed by a US website and an Australian women’s magazine, which boasted a “world exclusive” on “Harry the Hero.”