Prince Harry's new Netflix series won't help Brand Sussex, expert says
Prince Harry’s ‘bland’ new Netflix series won’t help struggling brand Sussex because it doesn’t have ‘real heart’ like rival films… and Meghan is conspicuous by her absence, warn PR experts after Prince took another jab at Royal Family
- Heart Of Invictus launches on Netflix with all five episodes released at 8am
- Harry is executive producer and show forms part of Sussexes’ Netflix deal
- READ MORE – Harry surprises veterans and their families at US premiere
Prince Harry’s new Netflix documentary series on the Invictus Games was today branded ‘bland’ by an expert who said it will not help the ‘Brand Sussex’ reboot.
The Duke of Sussex launched his new show ‘Heart Of Invictus’ today, and claimed he did not have a support network after returning from serving in Afghanistan.
Harry said trauma dating back to his mother Princess Diana’s death in 1997 when he was aged 12 was ‘never discussed’, in another apparent swipe at the Royal Family.
But a brand expert said the show lacked ‘real life heart’ and faced stiff competition on Netflix from the likes of At Home With The Furys, Love Is Blind and Selling Sunset.
However he added that Harry being at the forefront of the five-part series along with injured veterans – with his wife Meghan Markle appearing only briefly in several scenes to support him – was a positive step and ‘what his fanbase wants to see’.
Harry and Meghan both feature in the new Netflix documentary about the Invictus Games
Brand and culture expert Nick Ede told MailOnline today: ‘This new documentary is a great way for Netflix audiences to see Harry at his most natural and understand what motivates him.
‘With the focus mainly on the competitors and a very light touch from Meghan it is a brilliant way to highlight the passions that Harry and also reintroduce the man who many have felt was a part of their families back in a more compassionate and caring way.
Key quotes from Prince Harry in Netflix ‘Heart of Invictus’ series
On his mother Princess Diana’s death: ‘Losing my mum at such a young age, the trauma I had I was never aware of. It was never discussed and I didn’t really talk about it and I suppressed it like most other youngsters would have done. When it all came fizzing out, I was bouncing off the walls – what is going on here? – I am now feeling everything instead of being young.’
On first acknowledging his trauma: ‘It wasn’t until later in my life aged 28 there was a circumstance that happened that the first few bubbles started coming out and then suddenly it was like someone shook and it went ‘poof’ – and then it was chaos. My emotions were sprayed all over the wall everywhere I went and I was like ‘how the hell do I contain this?’ I’ve gone from nothing to everything and I now need to get a glass jar and put myself in it, put myself in it, leave the lid open and my therapist said ‘you choose what comes in and everything else bounces off.”
On returning from Afghanistan in 2008: ‘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.’
On his mental health struggles: ‘Unfortunately like most of us the first time you consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the foetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously. And that’s what I really want to change.’
On his identity: ‘What do I do? On any given day? I’m a dad of two under-three-year-olds, got a couple of dogs, husband, I’m founding patron of Invictus Games Foundation. There’s lots of hats that one wears, but I believe today is all about Invictus.’
On serving in the military as a father: ‘I’ve always had myself down as being the dad that I could never be serving while having kids. It’s never the individual signing up – it’s the whole family signing up.’
On his son: ‘When I talk to my son Archie about what he wants to be when he grows up, some days it’s an astronaut, some days it’s a pilot. But what I remind him is no matter what you want to be when you grow up, it’s your character that matters most.’
On discussing mental health in the Armed Forces: ‘If mental health means metal illness, which it doesn’t, but if it does in your mentality, then let’s just put that to one side and talk about mental fitness. If there is a stigma within the military there will be a stigma within society. If we really want to cure the stigma in society then we need to lead the way.’
On Invictus competitors overcoming struggles: ‘Knowing how dark it gets, and how dark it has got for some of these people – one step forward, three steps back – but the longer that they persist, then a lot of these individuals get through and out of that trench that they have been stuck in.’
On his deployment to Afghanistan: ‘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.”
On being pulled out of Afghanistan: ‘To suddenly be on the way home I was angry. But it was important for everyone around me – their safety – to remove me. My own experience in Afghanistan was really affected by that flight home. As we took off, the curtain in front of me blew open. And all you could see was the air hospital. Three young British soldiers all wrapped in plastic and their bodies in pieces.’
‘For Harry I think this is what was needed and what his fanbase wants to see rather than someone dismissing his family and being negative.
‘They want to see someone use their real-life trauma to create something purposeful and this is what he has done by shining a light on the games and its inspiring participants.’
However, Mr Ede added that he did not expect the show to win any awards because ‘it is a rather bland documentary series and could have been a film rather than extended into five episodes’.
He also said that while there is huge interest in Harry, there are ‘many other people who have done some extraordinary things that warrant a docuseries more than him’.
Mr Ede continued: ‘With ‘At Home with the Furys’, ‘Love is Blind’ and ‘Selling Sunset’ for competition, I can’t imagine this series being a must watch show – and, with very little Meghan, it doesn’t allow any real insight into their relationship which is all people really want to see and why Netflix paid millions for access.
‘A show like ‘At Home With The Furys’ is a stand out documentary series as it highlights the mental health struggles of Tyson and his whole family but never blames anyone and really educates the viewers on mental health and the issues surrounding it.
‘Harry’s documentary is a brilliant way to shine a light on the trauma of war but it doesn’t have the real life heart that other documentaries have.’
In the show, Harry explained that it was only when he returned from war that he became aware of trauma he still had from Diana dying in Paris.
Harry said that when he returned from war in 2008, the ‘biggest struggle for me was no one around me really could help’, adding: ‘I didn’t have that support structure, that network or that expert advice to identify what was actually going on with me.’
He also told the show: ‘Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the foetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously. And that’s what I really want to change.’
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline that while the Invictus Games had been a ‘remarkable achievement’ for Harry, the show – lasting 261 minutes across five episodes – was too long.
He said: ‘For a documentary to have wide appeal, it would surely have been wise to have made it much shorter. The assumption must be that Prince Harry’s appearances would be a huge draw.
‘This has proven to be the case when the Sussexes have made sensational revelations about their life as senior working royals. However, the Royal Family are not specifically featured in this, though Harry mentions having no help when he lost his mother.
‘Certainly, no one could question the significance of Invictus in the lives of so many brave veterans after watching it. However it is surely a gamble to make this documentary five hours long.
‘The sentiments Harry expresses about positivity are undoubtedly true in this context, but he and Meghan have been ruthless in their continued attacks on the royal family since they stepped down as senior working royals.
‘A huge public rift has developed in the royal family and the Sussexes’ popularity has been adversely affected as a result. This might also affect the viewing figures for this, worthy though the cause is.’
It comes after Netflix paid £3million for the film rights to Carley Fortune’s romantic novel Meet Me At The Lake which Harry and Meghan will produce for the service.
Mr Fitzwilliams said the Invictus documentary is ‘highly unlikely to be a crowd pleaser’, adding: A lot therefore rests on the success of their adaptation of the romantic novel, Meet Me at the Lake.
‘Netflix signed them up when it was also releasing series of Peter Morgan’s The Crown and this undoubtedly gave the streaming giant a huge cachet at the time.
‘The last series of The Crown will soon be upon us. Thereafter the link with the Sussexes may be of far less use to Netflix unless they hit gold.’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are seen at the Invictus Games in The Hague in April last year
In the Sussexes’ latest project as part of their £80million deal with Netflix, Harry introduces himself as a father of two, dog owner and husband.
The Duke of Sussex is asked by an interviewer: ‘What’s your name?’, and he replies: ‘My name’s Harry.’ The interviewer then says: ‘What do you do, Harry?’
ANALYSIS: It is surely a gamble to make this show five hours long
By RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS
The Invictus Games, begun by Prince Harry in 2014 to help wounded veterans, was a remarkable achievement.
Together with his charity Sentebale, which helped HIV sufferers in Lesotho, and WellChild, they showed yet again how potent the patronage of a senior member of the royal family can be, especially given that Harry was a veteran himself and has suffered trauma since the tragic death of his mother.
Harry and Meghan’s first and only offering for Netflix, last December, was a six-hour long documentary about themselves which became notorious for its display of intimate texts and photographs, which appeared hypocritical for a couple who are as obsessed with their privacy as much as they are.
This documentary, Heart of Invictus, is a series lasting five hours. It follows competitors who participated in the challenging events in last year’s Games, which are undoubtedly of enormous benefit to so many. It also gives an insight into how an huge event of this sort is organised.
The effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a dramatic backdrop to this. The international nature of the Games is also stressed. Harry makes frequent appearances whilst Meghan’s are brief.
This documentary has been long awaited and is made by the team who won an Academy Award for the powerful film White Helmets, set during the Syrian Civil War. It is certainly expertly edited.
However for a documentary to have wide appeal, it would surely have been wise to have made it much shorter. The assumption must be that Prince Harry’s appearances would be a huge draw.
This has proven to be the case when the Sussexes have made sensational revelations about their life as senior working royals. However the royal family are not specifically featured in this, though Harry mentions having no help when he lost his mother. Certainly, no one could question the significance of Invictus in the lives of so many brave veterans after watching it.
However it is surely a gamble to make this documentary five hours long. The sentiments Harry expresses about positivity are undoubtedly true in this context, but he and Meghan have been ruthless in their continued attacks on the royal family since they stepped down as senior working royals.
A huge public rift has developed in the royal family and the Sussexes’ popularity has been adversely affected as a result. This might also affect the viewing figures for this, worthy though the cause is.
Their contract with Netflix is worth £80million. They have lost Spotify. This is highly unlikely to be a crowd pleaser. A lot therefore rests on the success of their adaptation of the romantic novel, Meet Me at the Lake.
Netflix signed them up when it was also releasing series of Peter Morgan’s The Crown and this undoubtedly gave the streaming giant a huge cachet at the time. The last series of The Crown will soon be upon us. Thereafter the link with the Sussexes may be of far less use to Netflix unless they hit gold.
He replies: ‘What do I do? On any given day? I’m a dad of two under-three-year-olds, got a couple of dogs, husband, I’m founding patron of Invictus Games Foundation. There’s lots of hats that one wears, but I believe today is all about Invictus.’
Also in the show, Harry and Meghan were seen in a private moment together before a speech at the Salute to Freedom Gala for veterans in New York in November 2021, in which the duke can be heard confiding in the duchess about his nerves.
Harry is heard saying: ‘We haven’t done this for a while… My heart [is] like ‘digidigadigadiga”. He paces around nervously backstage.
All five episodes of the docuseries were made available at 8am UK time (midnight California time), following prior speculation that it had been cancelled by Netflix.
The show has been released ahead of next month’s Invictus Games to be held in Dusseldorf from September 9 for eight days and attended by Harry and Meghan.
Harry is its executive producer and the show forms part of the Sussexes’ deal with Netflix – with their main output so far being last year’s controversial Harry & Meghan documentary which included a series of swipes at members of the Royal Family.
The six-part series last December saw the couple accuse Kensington Palace of lying to protect Prince William and King Charles of lying at the notorious Megxit summit.
Pressure is on the Invictus documentary to be a ratings success, after the couple’s other lucrative media deal with Spotify ended in June following just one season of Meghan’s podcast Archetypes. Netflix unveiled its first trailer for the series on August 16.
During the new Invictus series, Harry talks in a segment about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma in warzones, giving insight into his own experiences.
He says: ‘Look, I can only speak to my own experience but from my tour of Afghanistan in 2012, flying Apaches, somewhere after that there was an unravelling.
‘And the trigger for me was actually returning from Afghanistan but the stuff that was coming up was from 1997 from the age of 12. Losing my mum at such a young age, the trauma I had I was never aware of.
‘It was never discussed and I didn’t really talk about it and I suppressed it like most other youngsters would have done. When it all came fizzing out, I was bouncing off the walls – what is going on here? – I am now feeling everything instead of being young.
‘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.
‘Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the foetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously. And that’s what I really want to change.’
Harry also speaks about trauma to Canadian indoor rower Darrell Ling, who tells him: ‘I’m glad you’ve been through this stuff and know how we feel.’
The duke then says: ‘I can’t pretend to know what you’ve been through, but I had that moment in my life where I didn’t know about it but because of the trauma of losing my mum when I was 12, for all those years, I had no emotion, I was unable to cry, I was unable to feel.
‘I didn’t know it at the time. And it wasn’t until later in my life aged 28 there was a circumstance that happened that the first few bubbles started coming out and then suddenly it was like someone shook and it went ‘poof’ – and then it was chaos.
‘My emotions were sprayed all over the wall everywhere I went and I was like ‘how the hell do I contain this?’. I’ve gone from nothing to everything and I now need to get a glass jar and put myself in it, put myself in it, leave the lid open and my therapist said ‘you choose what comes in and everything else bounces off’.’
Army veteran Harry – who undertook two tours of Afghanistan, with one from 2007 to 2008 and the other from 2012 to 2013 – also discusses how he never wanted to serve in the Armed Forces after he had children.
The Duke, who is father to Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, tells former Invictus competitors JJ Chalmers and David Wiseman during a hike: ‘I’ve always had myself down as being the dad that I could never be serving while having kids. And you both did, right? It’s never the individual signing up – it’s the whole family signing up.’
Harry speaks about his trauma following his tour in Afghanistan, in the new documentary
Wiseman says his wife Lucy was pregnant when he was shot and injured in Afghanistan.
READ MORE Prince Harry reveals what Archie wants to be when he grows up in sweet moment during new Netflix show Heart of Invictus
The series begins with a scene from July 2021, when Harry welcomes Chalmers and Wiseman with hugs and ‘Morning lads’ at what appears to be his home in Montecito, California. Harry says: ‘Shall we go for a hike?’ as the trio get into a car driven by the duke.
A speech Harry gave at the Games in The Hague in April last year is also shown in the documentary, in which he tells competitors: ‘It is here at Invictus Games that you realise – whatever you carry was the springboard that propelled you to the next level.
‘To being the best version of yourself. The version of yourself that you missed, that your spouses missed, that your kids missed. When I talk to my son Archie about what he wants to be when he grows up, some days it’s an astronaut, some days it’s a pilot.
‘But what I remind him is no matter what you want to be when you grow up it’s your character that matters most. And nothing would make his mum and me prouder than to see him have the character of what we see before us today – you.’
The duke also speaks during an interview about the importance of discussing mental health in the armed forces, saying: ‘When I joined the military, mental health, mental illness was a dirty word.
‘One of the things I am most proud of is the work that [Invictus Games co-founder] David Wiseman and I did giving talks to people inside the military.
Harry is seen chatting during a hike with his friends, former Invictus competitors presenter JJ Chalmers (left) and David Wiseman, and says: ‘I’ve always had myself down as being the dad that I could never be serving while having kids. And you both did, right?’
‘We encouraged them to accept that if mental health means metal illness, which it doesn’t, but if it does in your mentality, then let’s just put that to one side and talk about mental fitness.
READ MORE Meghan Markle makes brief cameos in Prince’s Harry’s Netflix series about Invictus Games
‘If there is a stigma within the military there will be a stigma within society. If we really want to cure the stigma in society then we need to lead the way.’
Harry also says to the camera: ‘I feel it very personally because I have always felt as though every life that is lost could have been a life saved. And I think that we as a society can do better especially for people who have served their country.
‘From what I have seen from the Invictus Games and from this community and my own experiences as well, that if you put your mind to something there is nearly always a positive that comes out of it.’
Harry also speaks about Invictus Games competitors overcoming struggles as flashback footage showed athletes triumphing at the tournament in 2014, and one falling in the 200 metres.
The duke says: ‘Knowing how dark it gets, and how dark it has got for some of these people, one step forward, three steps back, but the longer that they persist, then a lot of these individuals get through and out of that trench that they have been stuck in.
‘They are no longer worrying about the past. They are more focused on the future and the affect that that has on the individual has this ripple effect across the family and across the community. And that is what we are trying to achieve here.’
The Duke of Sussex high-fives a veteran during the new Netflix documentary Heart of Invictus
Harry also complains about the media ruining his deployment to Afghanistan, saying: ‘The whole reason I was allowed to go to Afghanistan in the first place was because it was kept a secret.
READ MORE Prince Harry claims the media ‘did not cover’ British soldiers being wounded in Afghanistan as he discusses Press coverage of his deployment in Netflix documentary
‘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.”
Harry’s cover in 2008 was eventually blown by American website the Drudge Report when it broke a news blackout. The website announced a ‘world exclusive’ and said: ‘They’re calling him Harry the Hero!’.
In the documentary, the duke then adds: ‘To suddenly be on the way home I was angry. But it was important for everyone around me – their safety – to remove me.
‘My own experience in Afghanistan was really affected by that flight home.
‘As we took off, the curtain in front of me blew open. And all you could see was the air hospital. Three young British soldiers all wrapped in plastic and their bodies in pieces.
‘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. But at that point it wasn’t clear to me what needed to be done.’
Another segment hears from Harry two days before the Invictus Games in The Hague in April last year.
He says: ‘After so many delays because of the global pandemic, with all the craziness that’s happening in the world, what’s happening in Ukraine, to be here now in the games with all the people that have been patiently waiting since 2020 is a relief to be honest.
The documentary is about the competition for injured and sick military personnel and veterans
‘We didn’t think it would ever happen and it’s been a real emotional rollercoaster for every single person.
READ MORE Harry and Meghan wheel out their PR guru and Archewell director James Holt on Netflix again for Heart of Invictus ‘group therapy’
‘I don’t know how hard it’s been for all of these people and their families as they’ve been training. I would argue they’ve had more time to train than anybody else so I really hope the sport’s going to be awesome.
‘The vast majority of people who have made it to the Invictus Games and the vast majority of these individuals who are alive today is because of their support network, is because of their family, their friends.
‘This week at the games is group therapy for every single person, and that really excites me so bring it on.’
Meghan makes short appearances in the documentary, and is seen speaking at the opening ceremony of the Games last year to introduce Harry to the stage.
She says: ‘Thank you so much for your service and thank you to all the friends and the family that are here who’ve been supporting you along the way. Because this is service, this is dedication, and this is the Invictus family.
‘Please welcome my incredible husband, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex.’
Meghan and Harry then share a kiss on stage as she hands over the microphone.
Harry says: ‘Thank you, my love. The world needs to be reminded of the human spirit, the ability to heal, and the strength of resilience that allows us to recover and come back stronger.
Prince Harry and his father, then Prince Charles, stand in front of an Apache Helicopter at the Army Aviation Centre in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, on March 21, 2011
Prince Harry talks about his trauma after the death of his mother Princess Diana in 1997
Prince Philip, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Harry and Prince Charles at Diana’s funeral in 1997
‘You as a community have overcome immense challenges and together you are healing and teaching the world as you go.
READ MORE Prince Harry drops the F-bomb as he gives Team UK athletes a sweary piece of advice ahead of the 2022 Invictus Games
‘And you as individuals are people of substance, of resilience, of strength and of heart. You have the heart of Invictus.’
Addressing Team UK before the games, Harry is also seen saying: ‘Thanks for putting so much into this. You did it every day, wearing uniform and one way or another, that uniform had to be hung up.
‘But that service that runs in your blood, in our blood, that never leaves the body, it’s there. So when you are out there, kicking a**, trying to win a medal, or just having fun and making your family incredibly proud, when you feel that feeling in your throat, and you feel like you might want to cry, then just f****** cry. I mean that.’
The documentary also features an episode that begins in March 2022 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It hears from Ukrainian Invictus team manager Oksana Horbach, who remembers team members killed in the war.
She said: ‘It’s a big security challenge because we don’t want anyone to know the Ukrainian team is going to the Hague, we could easily become a target of Russian soldiers.
‘The majority of my team is in active service defending our country because we are in a war.
Heart of Invictus was released to audiences in Britain on Netflix at 8am UK time this morning
‘Not all team members made it, Yuliia Paievska, she was captured March 16 by Russian troops. She is not with us.
READ MORE Prince Harry says he was unable to ‘cry or feel’ after Diana’s death and it wasn’t until he was 28 ‘when a circumstance happened’ that his emotions were ‘sprayed all over the wall’ and ‘it was chaos’
‘And the second person who is not with us is our archery coach, Dmytro Sydoruk, who was killed in action April 5. He stepped on a mine and died instantly.’
One Ukraine competitor is seen giving Harry an album of ‘pictures showing what is going on in our land’.
And Harry says: ‘On the Ukraine team, what’s been weighing on me for the last 24 hours is the reality of their situation. Not just them coming here and literally being able to see in their eyes the trauma and what they’ve had to experience with their country being invaded.’
Another of the competitors featuring in the documentary is Paul Jenkins, captain of the British wheelchair rugby team at the Invictus Games, who speaks of the moment he ‘died for 27 minutes’ after a heart attack which he survived when his wife gave him CPR.
Jenkins is shown speaking a few weeks before the games start, saying: ‘I’m not out there unfortunately due to the fact that I died. It’s as simple as that. There’s no other way to put it or cover it over.
‘I died for 27 minutes and if it weren’t for my wife, I think I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale. And this rubbish about the light at the end of the tunnel, who on earth sees a light at the end of the tunnel? There’s b***er all there when I went, that’s for sure. It was black all the way.’
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also makes an appearance – speaking in a video call to competitors.
He says: ‘To our military officers, honoured heroes, veterans, those who are helping our amazing sportsmen. I do not think you have left our country behind. I think it is an honour for us that you represent Ukraine.
On Monday, Harry made a surprise appearance at the premiere at a cinema in Chula Vista
‘As for the medals? The most important award for us is that you found the strength to compete. But there’s a reason we need at least one medal. We will duplicate it many times over, trust me. You all deserve only gold medals, in fact you are our gold.’
READ MORE Moment Prince Harry jokes, ‘It’s nice of you to dress up for the occasion!’ as he surprises veterans and their families at US cinema premiere for his Heart of Invictus series
On Monday, Harry made a surprise appearance at the premiere at a cinema in Chula Vista, where two episodes were shown to an audience of veterans and their relatives.
Harry, who was dressed in a cream blazer and white shirt, joked with the crowd: ‘Nice to see you all. It’s nice of you to dress up for the occasion. [No] suits and ties?’
Following the screening he posed for pictures with theatre-goers, after saying: ‘I wanted to say a huge thank you for coming out tonight. You guys get to see Heart of Invictus, which has been the last two years in the making, sooner than anybody else.’
In the Heart of Invictus trailer, Harry, the King’s youngest son, was seen addressing the camera, saying: ‘The Games doesn’t focus on what causes the injury but really about the recovery and how to be part of a community again.’
The Duke was also pictured meeting competitors and saying: ‘Everyone is going to struggle at some point’.
Netflix said at the time: ‘Heart Of Invictus follows a group of extraordinary competitors from around the globe: service members who have experienced life-changing injuries or illnesses on their road to the Invictus Games.’
Competitors discussed the challenges they have faced, and one woman said in Ukrainian: ‘To rehabilitate myself, I need Invictus. But war does not allow us to relax.’
Another woman was seen talking on a group video call, before she stopped as shelling began nearby.
Prince Harry posed for pictures after the premiere screening in Chula Vista on Monday night
The footage included Harry appearing on stage at the Invictus Games, which he founded in 2014 as a paralympic-style sporting competition for injured and sick military personnel and veterans.
READ MORE Prince Harry’s Netflix documentary ‘is not enough to resurrect brand Sussex’ because ‘the ‘damage has already been done’ by Duke and Meghan Markle’
He said: ‘If your goal was to make your country proud, you’ve done it… If your goal was to make your family happy, you’ve achieved it… You are people of substance, of resilience, of strength. You have the heart of Invictus.’
The series, which was first announced more than two years ago, has been made by Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Productions company.
It is directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and produced by Joanna Natasegara, who worked together on the Oscar-winning short The White Helmets.
Reacting to the release of the documentary today, Imarn Ayton, the anti-racism activist and social commentator, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘For Harry it does remind me of why I used to like him in the first place. It was very inspirational, I’ll give him that. But in terms of the rebrand I don’t actually think it’s going to work. In terms of the damage, I think that’s already been done.
‘It looks like it literally is just very much him, and I think that works for their brand. Because again, you almost have this interesting dichotomy of this couple that is 1) celebrity and 2) royalty and it’s almost as if these two opposite worlds are coming together.
‘And with Harry we get this kind of moment where we just get to focus on the royalty, just get to focus on who he is, and just get to focus on him and his brand. And I think that will be helpful for them both, moving forward.’
The Duke of Sussex joked with the audience attending the premiere in Chula Vista on Monday
Also reacting to the show as TalkTV royal correspondent Rupert Bell, who said: ‘I have to say I will give it out of seven out of ten watching the first episode, pretty good. I enjoyed it.
READ MORE King Charles plans to axe 20% of middle managers working for the Royal Household
‘Harry is very much at the heart of it. It is his project from day one, so you hear his side of the stories – why he set it up, which is a moving example when he was flown back from Afghanistan.
‘There is just one reference when they appeared in New York and Meghan is wearing a big red dress and you just hear a little aside saying ‘we haven’t done this much recently’ when they’re making a public appearance.
‘But Meghan is conspicuous by her absence, it’s very much Harry’s hand on this and the stories that they are following are definitely heartwarming and the whole point of the series.’
And Sky News royal correspondent Laura Bundock said: ‘He talks about his own experience really being the reason that Invictus Games came about, it’s where it stemmed from, his own personal experience serving in the military and then of course his tour in Afghanistan which we now learnt did trigger the trauma of losing his mother aged 12.
‘Before you think ‘Harry on Netflix, here we go again’, this is a very, very different series to what we’ve heard before.’
She continued: ‘There have been a lot of sides to Harry, we’ve heard a lot of Harry, he’s exposed a lot of himself. But this is Harry on much more comfortable territory. Invictus Games is something that is very personal to him. It’s a cause he clearly cares about a lot and one he is keen to promote.
A film crew are spotted at the games in The Hague last year during filming for Heart of Invictus
‘And after I think a year in which there has been a lot of negativity around things Harry has done, things Harry has said, this does feel perhaps like a positive step forward.
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‘Even those who might have been critics of Harry in the past would certainly agree that the Invictus Games is a positive project from him, something that has achieved a huge amount – it is seen widely as a success story.’
Ms Bundock added: ‘As for the Royal Family, who are on holiday in Balmoral, this will be one Harry show they probably won’t mind watching.’
A camera crew for the project joined Harry and Meghan when they visited the Games in The Hague in the Netherlands in April last year.
While in The Hague, Harry did an interview with NBC’s Today show in which he appeared to issue a veiled warning to those closest to Queen Elizabeth II, saying he wanted to make sure his grandmother was ‘protected’ and had ‘the right people around her’.
He did not elaborate on whether he was referring to royal aides or members of his family.
Following the news that the Sussexes’ Spotify deal had been cancelled in June, rumours circulated the couple’s Netflix deal could meet the same fate.
But the streaming platform then spoke out in support of the couple, with a Netflix spokesman saying on June 27: ‘The bond with Archewell Productions is one we deeply value. Our exciting journey with them isn’t ending any time soon.’
A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan confirmed on August 24 that the Duchess will join the Duke at the Invictus Games next month.
Harry and Meghan at the ‘Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023 – One Year To Go’ last September
Meghan is expected to miss the opening ceremony, but she will fly to Europe and join Harry shortly after the start of the event, which will see participants from 21 nations – including newly added entrants Colombia, Israel and Nigeria – take part.
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Before the Invictus Games get under way, Harry will travel to the UK to attend a charity’s awards ceremony on the eve of the first anniversary of the late Queen’s death.
Harry will celebrate the achievements and resilience of seriously ill youngsters and their families supported by the charity WellChild, at the event being staged in London on September 7.
Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died peacefully at Balmoral in Scotland on September 8 last year, aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.
King Charles III and Queen Camilla are expected to mark the first anniversary of her death privately at their Balmoral estate.
Harry has been WellChild’s patron for 15 years and regularly attends its annual awards ceremony but will not be joined by Meghan, who has been a guest at past events.
The 2022 WellChild awards took place on the day the Queen died, and the Sussexes withdrew from the event with Harry flying to Scotland to be with other members of the royal family.
On August 10, in a video message marking one month to go until Invictus Games, Harry said he ‘can’t wait’ for the games and described how everyone is on a continual ‘healing journey’.
Singer Rita Ora was meanwhile announced as a headline act for the Invictus closing ceremony on September 16.
Harry and Meghan at the Invictus Games held at The Hague in the Netherlands in April last year
Harry said in his video message: ‘I can’t wait to see all of you and have the whole community together once again. It’s been too long.’
He added: ‘You’re all on different parts of your healing journey. We all are, we always will be. But I can assure you that this experience you’re gonna have will hopefully be life changing, and you’ll come out of it a better person for sure.’
Harry said: ‘Thank you for your service. Thank you for your commitment, your determination getting to this point… We’re gonna have a lot of fun. It’s gonna be the best games ever – best games yet.’
Heart of Invictus is now streaming on Netflix
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