Prince Harry ‘didn’t have that support structure’ when he returned from tours of duty

True story: I absolutely meant to start Heart of Invictus this morning, but my internet is out and so I will have to wait to start the series. Netflix released Heart of Invictus overnight, and many of you are already a few episodes in. The Daily Mail is also binge-watching it, because of course they are. This is my explanation for why I’m using the Mail’s coverage – I truly haven’t been able to start the series yet. In any case, the Mail is freaking out because Harry mentioned that he didn’t feel like he had much support when he returned home from his tours in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry has claimed he did not have a support network after return from serving in Afghanistan and his trauma was ‘never discussed’, in another apparent swipe at the Royal Family. The Duke of Sussex made the comments in his new Heart Of Invictus series which was launched on Netflix today. The prince is at the forefront of the five-part documentary, with his wife Meghan Markle appearing only briefly in several scenes to support him. Harry also told the programme that he was not aware of the trauma he still had from his mother Princess Diana dying in Paris in August 1997 when he was aged just 12.

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 fetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously. And that’s what I really want to change.’

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?’ 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 documentary, Harry and Meghan were seen in a private moment together before a speech at the Salute to Freedom Gala for military 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.

[From The Daily Mail]

Oh, there’s footage from the Salute to Freedom gala? That’s interesting. I always assumed that Harry and Meghan had a film crew with them during their New York trips because they were filming for their Harry & Meghan docuseries, not Heart of Invictus. Anyway, I feel quite comfortable saying that Harry’s words were not an attack on his family. He literally devoted a memoir to describing what his family did and did not do and say, and he lovingly described the relief of telling his father about his anxiety and his trouble processing trauma, and his father listened to him and understood. The Windsors’ every word and action is a subtweet of Harry, and they act as if his every word and action is directed to or about them. It’s a very strange way to live.

Photos courtesy of Instar, Backgrid.

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45 Responses to “Prince Harry ‘didn’t have that support structure’ when he returned from tours of duty”

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  1. Krista says:

    I don’t think Harry is slamming his family by saying he didn’t have the support he needed. I don’t think a lot of families are in a position to support vets – there’s no way we can relate to their experiences. The fact that vets have found a “family” that can support them and share similar experiences must be such a relief to those who sacrificed so much for their countries.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      Yeah. Not everything he says is about the Windsors.

    • StellainNH says:

      I didn’t see it as a slam either. Loved ones have no idea what a soldier goes through in tours and conflicts. Invictus was created to help the vets.

    • Couch Potato says:

      True! Families can support, but most have no idea what it’s like to be in a war zoone. When I grew up there were quite a few veterans in our community struggeling with mental health problems. In those days no one spoke about therapy and their way of coping was drugs and alcohol. My mum’s cousin tried to shoot himself because he couldn’t cope. He was finally admitted to a mental health facility and was in and out of there pretty much the rest of his life. Making sure veterans gets therapy at home, before they develop huge problems is essential. It’s really great that Harry puts a spotlight on this.

      • Krista says:

        I don’t know if it’s mandatory (I guess it depends on the country), but it should be automatic therapy for those coming from a war zone. Even if its just a few meetings with a therapist. I know people think they can handle stuff, but in my experience (not a vet, but someone who has struggled all their life with depression) it’s like toxic waste – it seeps out eventually and you’ll have to deal with it.

      • Couch Potato says:

        I don’t know either @Krista, but I know the military in some countries are better at it now. It should be automatic when they get home, and follow-ups in the years after. In my country they also had (probably still have) couples counsling courses.

    • MsIam says:

      I do housing counseling and about two weeks ago I spoke to a young vet who was facing foreclosure on his home because he hadn’t been able to find a job since he got out of the military in March. He was thinking of harming himself because he didn’t know what to do or where to turn and he had a wife and two kids. I had to scramble to try and find some resources to help. So the Fail can FO. I know Invictus is hoping to expand their services because its needed.

    • Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

      Having just read this excerpt and not having seen the series yet, my take is that Harry could also be referring to the lack of support within the government and the military for service people who are struggling with mental health issues. I realize that some strides have been made in recent years but many people won’t share what they’re dealing with for fear of jeopardizing their careers and their reputations.

      • Chelsea says:

        Harla as someone who watched this episode already i think you’re right. About like 5 or 6 mins before that quote there’s another scene with her where he speaks about the amount of soldiers taking their lives and says he takes it personally because each life lost is one that could be saved and we should be doing more to help them. The episode is literally called Invisible Injuries and it focuses on the Invictus competitors dealing with PTSD. His comment helped me move the narrative along which is something the show does a lot from the 2 episodes I’ve seen.

      • Krista says:

        100%. Sane people like you and I see it that way. The DM? No, they have to turn it into a slam against his family. They are so pathetic.

    • Moxylady says:

      I think this is the position nearly all vets encounter upon returning home. Regardless of their family circumstances.

      There is a reason so few talk about their experiences with civilians. It’s because we just can’t get understand it. And they don’t want to hear omg I’m so sorry. Or that sounds so cool. When it was potentially the worst day of their life.

      Not every single thing Harry says is about his family. He saw a stark lack of support for veterans and he decided to build something that would help them. And he’s helped save countless lives and families by doing so.

    • Mel says:

      I think this is a common thread with all vets no matter where they are, they don’t get the support they need from the government that sent them there.

    • Dutch says:

      And there is no way a family that festoons itself in military cosplay will understand the emotional toll serving on the front lines takes on a real solider.

      • Nic919 says:

        Yes this needs to be mentioned too. Most families of veterans don’t pretend they also served the way the royals do. Being in a combat zone is going to traumatize all soldiers in some way. This is something William and Charles can’t understand. They didn’t face that. But they decorate themselves with all the ribbons anyway.

      • bisynaptic says:

        This. I suspect this is some of why they’re taking his comments to mean them.

  2. Nubia says:

    If his Father told his Dear Boy that his Mother had just died and then left him alone in a gloomy room by himself this was sadly the norm for him.

  3. Maxine Branch says:

    I am on episode 5 of the Heart of Invictus and from watching you get so personally involved with these veterans stories. Such an amazing series and so well put together. Very proud of Harry the Invictus Foundation and equally proud to know profits from this series will go to this foundation.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    If a veteran saying that he didn’t have a support structure or network to deal with his PTSD is swipe or attack on his family then the British press still don’t get what veteran go through.

    • SarahCS says:

      Which is very likely true. At the same time when have they not wilfully misunderstood everything he says and made it a swipe at the rest of the royals?

  5. It doesn’t matter what Harry says or doesn’t say they will find fault. His family didn’t give him support after his return. They didn’t know what it was like for Harry and all that he had seen and was doing. They just wear military uniforms for costumes nothing more with the exception of pedo who did see some action in the Faulklands but mummy was there to comfort him when he returned. Now I’m going to watch Netflix.

  6. Dee(2) says:

    It’s a very self-centered response to be upset that someone points out that you aren’t equipped as a typical family member to deal with the complex emotions of a veteran returning home from active duty. His statement’s pretty normal, and the fact that he specifically said expert really hammered home his point that someone that was trained in dealing with that specific situation he didn’t have around him. Of course this is the British media and this is his petty family and so everything has to be about them at all times. Even a documentary about injured veterans and how they are dealing with the various visible and invisible injuries that they have. I really can’t believe that the media in that country thinks that taking a negative reporting stance to a documentary about veterans is really the best tack to take

    • ariel says:

      The windsors have hardcore main character syndrome- probably not a surprise – as they have explained their rule from heir to heir as chosen by “god”.
      Which, of course, is batsh*t crazy.

      There should be a different word for newspaper writers in england.
      “Journalist” is not a correct term for what those maggot do day in and day out.

  7. Becks1 says:

    I am not military, but I think the trauma one experiences from an active military zone is so unique that it IS hard to process and it is hard for people around you to know what to do or whether they should do anything etc, and that trauma probably is dismissed or ignored. If you don’t have access to good mental health care, then its even harder because how do you find that support network? how do you get that expert advice?

    not everything Harry says is a direct swipe at the royal family. I think what he’s talking about here (not having watched it yet) what so many military people go through when they return home and have these experiences that you really can’t understand without having lived through it and this trauma etc. Invictus gives those people a support system (because its more than just the games themselves). and part of the point of Invictus is to raise awareness of the visible AND invisible injuries suffered in combat, such as PTSD.

    • Nic919 says:

      My dad used to work with veterans from WWII when he first started work and they did not speak about their experiences very much. Seeing death and violence in that capacity takes a toll few can understand.

  8. MsIam says:

    Well the Fail had to say something negative and drag that awful family into it somehow, I guess. So predictable. Anyway, I’ve got to re-up my Netflix account so I can watch. So proud of Harry and the veterans.

  9. Becks1 says:

    21 countries are competing in this year’s games, there are more countries added pretty much every game. New this year are Nigeria, Colombia, and Israel.

    Most of the countries are european but Jordan, South Korea and Australia are all participating, as are the US and Canada.

    The games keep growing each year so my guess is we will see more countries in 2025.

  10. Feebee says:

    The man is working hard to support military veterans, being one himself. Talking honestly about his experiences and difficulties and what we get from the British media if not the Firm too is “how can we make this about US and how mean Harry is being to US”? This literally has nothing to do with them. I guess that’s killing them too.

    They’re pathetic beyond words.

  11. Izzy says:

    What he’s referring to is a support structure that doesn’t exist for ALL veterans, but needs to. It’s not about him alone, it’s about all soldiers.

    I guess it would be difficult for the RF to recognize that, since almost all of them have only played dress-up soldier, and are completely self-centered. And the media have to talk about Harry and Meghan, because nothing else they write about with the RF sells.

  12. Steph says:

    I don’t think he was taking a swipe at all. But if he was I think it was more societal than anything else. We’ve gotten better at talking about it but we still don’t have (at least here in the US) the infrastructure to support basic mental health. It’s one of the reasons why I’m a bit weary of rich people being the face and voice of mental health advocating. We don’t have access to good therapy the way they do. My sister has been trying to get my niece into therapy for so long but the waiting lists go on for years. And she has good insurance. Imagine one of the biggest highlights of your only child starting college is that the school offers mental health services to all students? I’ve gone through five therapists in about two years bc they are all taking different positions so they can make an actual living. And the way my instance is, it’s take what you get, regardless of how you feel about that particular therapist.
    I don’t think anyone who is paying any attention current mental health discussions would be surprised that Harry didn’t have the support.

    • Lindsay says:

      Great points. I have not heard of any country that really has a comprehensive approach to mental health care, even for middle class folks.

  13. Julie says:

    Of course he didn’t have the support around him. None of those clowns went to war. He is stating a fact, giving his point of view. He is not slamming his family.

    • Mary Pester says:

      Talk about vanity and making it all about, THEM aren’t you daily fail instead of looking at what invictus DOES and what Harry is doing. YOU make it about the Royal family!! What happened to “journalism” are you in so deep with the Royals that you fail to see how disgusting you are, or, is it because your one and only reason for existing is to try and destroy Harry and everything he has built? Give up now, because you will never succeed. Go ask the government WHY so many veterans are homeless, why so many veterans become addicted to alcohol or drugs, why are so many commiting suicide. THAT’S what you should be doing, holding the government’s to account, because there is NO support. Even the “armed forces covenant” was not fully set up. I can remember coming home on leave, going into our city centre with my mother, a car backfired and the next thing my mother saw was me lay on the ground in a shop doorway! After months of being shot at, it was a natural protection reflex, but people looked at me as if I was mad. One day I was called upon to help tow one of our lorries, because they thought it had broken down and left by the previous patrol. It was given a quick look over, my Sargent got into stear it and I got into the landy to tow it. We started to move and then bang, the lorry exploded, I wasn’t badly hurt, just a cut and blast concussion but my Sargent, I man I liked and respected was gone, just one boot and a hand lay beside a burning wreck Sorry if that’s to graffic for some of you, but that’s the sort of thing we have to deal with, now put that on top of losing your mother at 12 and having to parade through the streets behind her coffin. How Harry has managed to come through it I will never know. But I admire the fact he has /is and I admire even more that he will talk about it to try and help others

      • QuiteContrary says:

        “Just a cut and blast concussion” — wow, Mary Pester, that’s not nothing.

        Thank you for adding your knowledgeable and experienced viewpoints to these discussions — and for serving.

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        Mary Pester, thank you for sharing what you have. I hope you have someone around you who listens when you need to talk.

      • Nic919 says:

        Wow thanks for sharing that. People who don’t serve need to know this. I suspect if more people knew the true effects of war then there would be more pushback on starting military conflicts.

      • bisynaptic says:

        I’m so sorry. 💔

  14. Chelsea says:

    Yes Kaiser a recurring theme in Spare is that Harry often lets Charles off the hook for not getting him the help he needed as a child in part because he realizes how emotionally stunted his father’s own childhood was and when Harry finally does talk to him about the panic attacks he’s been having after returning from war he portrays Charles as empathetic and apologetic for not getting him help sooner. As someone who watched most of the episode this quote appears in i dont think he was attacking Charles at all; even family members who are less emotionally stunted than Charles struggle with how to support a veteran whose returned from war and don’t know the warning signs to look for.

    That is why the work that Harry has been doing not only through Invictus but through his other military charites like Endeavour and Walling With The Wounded and his public pushes for better mental health support for everyone, and in particular veterans, is so important. About like 5 or 6 mins before the quote mentioned above there’s another scene with him where he speaks about the amount of soldiers taking their lives and he says he takes it personally because each life lost is one that could be saved and we should be doing more to help them. The episode is literally called Invisible Injuries and it focuses on the Invictus competitors dealing with PTSD and i really hope people take the time to watch it because it’s powerful and incredibly important.

  15. cheche says:

    All the royal family cosplay with uniforms ,medals, and ceremonies doesn’t allow much time for reflection or empathy. It is tradition without meaningful substance .The queen’s death made the whole royal family story a a constant re-run of “the emperor has no clothes.” The media uses Harry as a distraction from royal mediocrity.

  16. MinorityReport says:

    To quote my favorite Sandra Bullock movie, Two Weeks Notice: “NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU, DAN!”

    I’m watching this episode. He’s talking about support on a societal level.

  17. QuiteContrary says:

    You’d think that the Fail journalist’s response would be: “Holy, Harry really knows what he’s talking about … and look at how much good he’s doing by highlighting these critical issues.”

    Instead, it’s all, “wah, Harry’s so mean to the royals.” Pathetic.

  18. Saucy&Sassy says:

    Well, leave it to the Daily Fail to make the brf look bad once again. I’m starting to think they do it deliberately. Oh, they think they’re making a swipe at Harry, but what they’re actually accomplishing is to paint the brf in a bad light. I guess if you want to completely misinterpret what Harry says and push the blame from society to a specific family? Well, okay.

  19. Well Wisher says:

    ” In any case, the Mail is freaking out because Harry mentioned that he didn’t feel like he had much support when he returned home from his tours in Afghanistan.”

    Clearly there is a difference between receiving help and having a support system already in place to get help, as stated in the preamble under this article…

    It is clear in this article: I fail to understand why nuance is so difficult for some in the media when it comes to Prince Harry..

  20. blunt talker says:

    Harry got out of the military because of his Grandma Liz-she wanted he doing royal work-she had no understanding of what he had been through in the military-the only thing they were concerned about is how many engagements can Harry do-they were not thinking about his mental health-keeping that stiff upper lip and carrying on is their motto no matter what is going on in your head that’s bugging you-that family does not understand therapy.