Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-prince-harry-‘stunned’-by-backlash-to-his-espy-nomination-for-‘the-pat-tillman-award-for-service’-after-afghanistan-veteran’s-own-mother-said-she-would-have-preferred-for-it-to-go-to-someone-‘less-privileged’Alert – Prince Harry ‘stunned’ by backlash to his ESPY nomination for ‘the Pat Tillman Award for Service’ after Afghanistan veteran’s own mother said she would have preferred for it to go to someone ‘less privileged’

Prince Harry was ‘stunned’ by the backlash he faced after being nominated for an award named after an American war hero killed in Afghanistan, sources have claimed.

The Duke of Sussex, 39, is due to be honoured with the Pat Tillman Award for Service for his Invictus Games work at the glitzy ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on July 11.

Tillman, an American football star who gave up a £3million contract to enlist in the US Army after 9/11, had his life tragically cut short at the age of 27 when he was killed in friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan 20 years ago.

His mother Mary, who said she was not consulted about Prince Harry being given the award bearing her son’s name, told the Mail last week: ‘I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award.

‘There are recipients that are far more fitting. There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans.

‘These individuals do not have the money, resources, connections or privilege that Prince Harry has. I feel that those types of individuals should be recognised.’

The ESPY Awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) is run by the sports TV network ESPN and the Pat Tillman Award has previously been given to unsung heroes.

Last year it went to members of the Buffalo Bills American football team training staff who revived a dying player on the field.

ESPN said Harry was being honoured for his ‘tireless work in making a positive impact for the veteran community through the power of sport’ with his Invictus Games.

But the decision to honour him has led to a backlash.

Sources told The Telegraph that it is a ‘bitter pill to swallow’ when the Duke of Sussex is criticised about anything relating to his military record and work with veterans.

‘Harry’s legacy on Invictus, the things he has achieved, that’s his real passion,’ they said. ‘This is the space in which he truly feels at home, it is something he deeply cares about. The reaction certainly took the shine off the award.’

The source acknowledged that it was similar to when Harry, who completed two tours of Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot was recognised as a Living Legend of Aviation at a star-studded ceremony in Beverly Hills, California, in January.

As he joined the likes of astronauts Buzz Aldrin, James Lovell and Tim Peak in picking up the prestigious award, Admiral Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, brutally said: ‘He is not a living legend’.

The latest backlash began almost straight after ESPN announced on June 27 that Harry would be given the  Pat Tillman Award for Service.

A petition to urge ESPN to reasses its decision boasted almost 68,000 signatures in ten days.

It said: ‘Pat Tillman exemplified duty, honour, and sacrifice.’

 ‘He gave up his successful NFL career to serve his country after the 9/11 attacks, and tragically lost his life during his service. Awarding this honour to someone who does not reflect the award’s intent diminishes its value and disrespects Tillman’s memory.’

 Former NFL player Pat McAfee also waded in, saying: ‘We should celebrate sports. The worldwide leaders should celebrate sport but doing something like this is obviously trying to p*** people off.’

 He said they should create a new category just for the duke. ‘How about it’s like ESPY for Royal Family member who doesn’t want to be called ‘Royal Family member’ who loves sports?’

Jake Wood, a former Pat Tillman Award winner, later defended Prince Harry on TMZ Live, saying: ‘He’s a royal prince, there’s 100 different things he could have done with his life after his service in the British Armed Forces but he’s chosen to dedicate a big portion of his post-military life to helping veterans.’ 

Pat Tillman was hailed in the US after giving up his lucrative career with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist as an Army Ranger.

He served in Iraq and then Afghanistan, where he was killed by friendly fire in 2004. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart for bravery.

A spokesman for ESPN previously said: ‘ESPN, with the support of the Tillman Foundation, is honouring Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, specifically for the work of The Invictus Games Foundation as it celebrates its 10th year promoting healing through the power of sport for military service members and veterans around the world.

‘While we understand not everyone will agree with all honourees selected for any award, The Invictus Games Foundation does incredible work and ESPN believes this is a cause worth celebrating.’

Archewell has been contacted for comment. 

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