Prince Harry Faces Backlash For Receiving Award In Honor Of Late American Hero

Jul 03, 2024 by apost team

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced to the world on Jan. 8, 2020, that they would step down as senior working members of the British royal family in a move popularly dubbed “Megxit.” By spring of 2020, the transition was complete, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were no longer performing royal duties. 

Prince Harry is King Charles III and the late Princess Diana’s youngest son. His older brother is Prince William. He now lives in the United States with Meghan and their two children. Although he and Meghan stepped down from their duties as senior royals, they have not shunned the spotlight, appearing at public charity events and pursuing their own creative and philanthropic ventures, many under their own brand, Archewell.

In the beginning, Harry’s relationship with Meghan seemed like a modern-day fairy tale that captured the world’s attention. The couple met on a blind date in July 2016 and immediately hit it off. By November 2016, news of their relationship had broken, and the couple faced intense media scrutiny. Meghan faced particular attention due to her American actress status and biracial background.

As for Prince Harry, the general public has soured on his engagements, actions, and everything his name is linked to. In July 2024, ESPN revealed that Prince Harry would be one of the awardees for the 2024 ESPYS. He will receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service, named after the former NFL player and US Army Ranger Pat Tillman. However, the late athlete’s mother expressed hesitation on why the British royal would be honored in the name of a United States hero.  

Prince Harry (2017), (IMAGO / PA Images)

In a press release by ESPN, Prince Harry was awarded the Pat Tillman Award for Service for his positive impact on the veteran community through the power of sport. Famously, Harry mounted The Invictus Games Foundation, providing an “international platform to support wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women – both active-duty and veterans – who are navigating both physical and invisible injuries.” 

“Since inception, the Games have transcended borders and impacted lives across every continent, bringing together competitors from 23 nations, with continued support and programming 365 days of the year,” ESPN wrote in the release. 

Unbeknownst to many, the Pat Tillman Award was named after the late former NFL player and US Army Ranger Pat. 

Pat was 27 when he was killed in a tour in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. ESPN described Pat as “one of the most famous soldiers since Elvis Presley “and the “most famous American killed in combat.” 

Notably, Pat was famous as a safety player for the Arizona Cardinals. He pursued serving the armed forces and stepped away from the team’s $3.6 million offer to play for three more years. According to Pat’s mother, Mary Tillman, he was inspired to serve the country after the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. 

"He always wanted to try to do the right thing -- not that he did the right thing all the time, but he tried -- and he defended his friends whenever they were in some kind of trouble," Mary told ESPN.  "I just think it [the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath] trivialized football ... and I think he felt like he should do more."

Prince Harry (2024), (IMAGO / i Images)

Upon the announcement of Harry’s award, Mary spoke out about her hesitation in having Harry receive the award. Speaking to The Daily Mail, Mary slammed the decision. 

“I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award,” Mary noted. “There are recipients that are far more fitting. There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans.” 

According to the late soldier’s mother, other individuals deserve the awards that “do not have the money, resources, connections or privilege that Prince Harry has."

Mary confirmed that she had indeed commented to the British newspaper to NBC News but declined for further interview. As for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they have yet to address the issue or acknowledge the said award. 

The Daily Mail reported that a petition has been filed demanding ESPN to rethink its decision, noting that the Duke of Sussex had been “involved in controversies that call into question his suitability to receive an honour of this magnitude.” 

“Awarding this honour to someone who does not reflect the award’s intent diminishes its value and disrespects Tillman’s memory,” the petition read. 

People on social media have echoed Mary’s frustration, citing reasons why Harry shouldn’t receive the honor named after a slain American war hero. 

“It’s a total disgrace, he bought that award imo. He’s not even American!!” a user said on X, formerly Twitter. 

“As a veteran and avid football follower, it “sickens” me Prince Bunker Narry is getting this award.  Let not forget, his clawing wife will be there front and center wearing an outrageous gown.  Wouldn’t surprise me if she grabbed the award to present to her husband.  She has done this many times,” another commented

Pat Tillman (1997), (IMAGO / PanoramiC)

Do you think Prince Harry deserves the award? What do you think of the criticism around it? Let us know, and pass this on to your family, friends, and other Royal Family fans out there!

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