Prince Harry’s Invictus Games documentary will not be enough to pull off a ‘rebrand’ for the Duke and his wife Meghan Markle because ‘the damage has already been done’, a commentator said today.
Imarn Ayton, an anti-racism activist, praised new Netflix documentary Heart Of Invictus as ‘inspirational’ but said it did not change her view of the Sussexes – who were now associated with ‘insincerity, betrayal and fuelling the culture wars’.
She told Good Morning Britain: ‘It reminds me of why I used to like him in the first place – it was very inspirational. But in terms of the rebrand, I don’t actually think it’s going to work. The damage has already been done.’
Journalist and Sussex supporter Tiwa Adebayo denied her suggestion that the Sussexes were in need of ‘rehabilitating’ their image because they had been ‘incredibly successful’.
She cited Spare as an example as well as Meghan’s podcast, Archetypes, noting that it was ‘number one in six countries’ before later being dropped by Spotify. ‘Look how respected they are by their peers – just this week Meghan’s mum was pictured with Kim Kardashian,’ Ms Adebayo said.
Imarn Ayton, an anti-racism activist, praised new Netflix documentary Heart Of Invictus as ‘inspirational’ but said it did not change her negative view of the Sussexes
Prince Harry appearing alongside his wife Meghan Markle on the documentary, which was released today
Explaining why she believes the Sussexes’ brand has been irreparably damage, Ms Ayton said: ‘The biggest issue is the fact they’ve done this weird transition from full-blown celebrity to full-blown royalty.
‘And so as much as this documentary is helpful it doesn’t negate the fact that the damage has been done. There will forever be a cohort within the UK and abroad that will associate this couple with insincerity, betrayal and fuelling the culture wars.’
Today’s documentary also saw the Duke make another apparent swipe at his family as he claimed he did not have a support network after return from serving in Afghanistan and his trauma was ‘never discussed’.
But Sky News royal correspondent Laura Bundock said Heart of Invictus was ‘very very different’ from Netflix’s earlier bombshell series, Harry & Meghan.
She 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.
‘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. 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.’
Journalist Tiwa Adebayo (right) denied her suggestion that the Sussexes were in need of ‘rehabilitating’ their image because they had been ‘incredibly successful’
Meanwhile, GB News royal correspondent Cameron Walker said watching the series felt like ‘having the old Prince Harry back’.
‘It takes the focus off him, his problems and trauma, and puts the focus back on veterans.
‘It’s perhaps why we see the Prince and Princess of Wales being quite so popular with the British public – they shine the spotlight off themselves and onto their charity work. And that’s what we’re seeing with Prince Harry now within this documentary.’
He added: ‘There is a very little bit of Meghan. She’s very much in the background in a supporting role actually funnily enough. It’s very much Harry giving the interviews.
‘Prince Harry avoids the fact that he is a member of the Royal Family within this documentary. And the question for Netflix is, well, is this going to rate?’
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, posing with Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian. Today on Good Morning Britain, a commentator said the image was proof Meghan Markle was ‘respected by her peers’
The Duke of Sussex is at the forefront of the five-part documentary, with his wife Meghan Markle appearing only briefly in several scenes where she supports 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 foetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously. And that’s what I really want to change.’
As the Sussexes’ latest project in their £80million deal with Netflix was released this morning, Harry also described himself as a father-of-two, dog owner and husband.
At the start, the Duke of Sussex was asked by an interviewer: ‘What’s your name?’, and replied: ‘My name’s Harry.’ The interviewer then said: ‘What do you do, Harry?’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are seen at the Invictus Games in The Hague in April last year
Harry said: ‘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, and the Duke was heard confiding in the Duchess about his nerves.
Harry was heard saying: ‘We haven’t done this for a while.’ Meghan added: ‘I know.’ Harry said: ‘My heart like digidigadigadiga’ and paced 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 which will be in Dusseldorf from September 9 over 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.
Pressure is on the Invictus documentary to be a ratings success, after the couple’s other lucrative media deal with Spotify ended in June after one season of Meghan’s podcast Archetypes. Netflix unveiled its first trailer for the series on August 16.
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.