What’s going on the British Invictus team & the British charity Help for Heroes?

This is a curious story and while the headlines are desperately trying to make it sound like Prince Harry did something wrong/bad, I honestly don’t believe Harry did anything here. Harry is involved because this story is about the Invictus Games and about the British Invictus team. The way Invictus works, each country gets to organize their own teams using their own methods and funding. I would imagine most countries simply organize their Invictus teams through that country’s Defense department or ministry of defense or maybe even a specific federal veterans administration. In the UK, the Team GB Invictus team was organized through the Ministry of Defense, the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes. HFH is a nonprofit and I suspect they did a lot of the heavy lifting for Team GB’s fundraising for training, travel and competition. Well, no more. The MoD has announced that the Royal British Legion will be stepping in to organize and finance the British Invictus team.

Prince Harry’s Invictus Games is embroiled in controversy after the Help for Heroes charity was dropped from preparing the UK team of injured troops. Britain’s Ministry of Defence has taken the contract away from the charity, which has recruited, selected, supported and trained Team UK since Harry founded the first games in 2014 as a way of helping a generation of soldiers, sailors and airmen and women injured in Afghanistan and Iraq to use adaptive sports to rebuild their lives.

The MoD took the decision to dump Help for Heroes after the charity said it wanted to evaluate whether the Invictus Games were still providing value for money for members of the public who support the charity through donations after the next competition in Dusseldorf in 2023. It also wanted to reduce its potential liability if there was a funding shortfall and share costs more evenly with the two other partners behind the British team, the defence ministry and the Royal British Legion. But it insisted it had wanted to continue to prepare the British team and remained supportive of Invictus.

Instead the MoD decided to award the contract wholly to the Royal British Legion for the next five years, much to the “disappointment” of staff at Help for Heroes, which has assisted 25,000 wounded and injured military personnel and veterans since it was founded in 2007 by Bryn and Emma Parry after they visited soldiers at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.

Lis Skeet, Services Director at Help for Heroes, said: “Help for Heroes is incredibly proud to have trained, supported and delivered Team UK for the past five Invictus Games. However, following extensive discussions, it has been decided by the MOD that the Royal British Legion will lead the end-to-end delivery of Team UK to the Invictus Games for the next five years and will also be the main funder of the programme. Unfortunately, therefore, we will no longer be directly involved in Invictus Team UK. We want to emphasise that this was not a decision we made ourselves.”

Harry, 37, who is patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, has not spoken publicly about the decision and is not believed to have been involved in the decision, taken during the last games in The Hague last month. But the foundation has vowed to continue working with Help for Heroes on other projects. A spokesman for the foundation said: “This was a decision taken by the UK Ministry of Defence following proposals for the team structure moving forward, and not a matter for the Invictus Games Foundation. Across our participating nations, we work alongside many military organisations and charities to support international wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans, including our programmes beyond the games, and will continue to do so with Help for Heroes.”

MoD officials insisted signing up the Royal British Legion to prepare Team UK for the next five years would put the British preparations on a sounder financial footing.

[From The Daily Express]

“Prince Harry’s Invictus Games is embroiled in controversy” and then the article is just an interesting story about British bureaucracy and how the British MoD yanked the Invictus contract from one of Britain’s leading veterans’ charities. Now, my radar is pinging like crazy. It would not surprise me at all if shenanigans were afoot. But I think the cover story is supposed to be that Help for Heroes was worried they wouldn’t be able to raise enough money for Team GB for the Dusseldorf games, and instead of the MoD and Royal British Legion simply helping HFH raise money (or the MoD simply financing all of the team’s Invictus expenses), they decided to cut HFH out of it. But I’m open to other theories about what this is really about.

I also think it’s notable that the Royal Family said and did nothing around the Hague Invictus Games. No one in the family tweeted out congratulations to Team GB veterans, there were no royal receptions for the athletes before or after the games, no one in that family even thanked the veterans for their service. That alone speaks volumes. By putting the British Invictus team under the purview of the Royal British Legion, doesn’t that mean that the team will be more closely associated with the Windsors? Hm.

Photos courtesy of Instar.

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