Harry to receive accolade in US for efforts to ‘change the world’ with Invictus

The Duke of Sussex is to be honoured for his service and using his platform to “change the world” at this year’s ESPY awards in the US.

Harry is to receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service, awarded by sports channel ESPN to individuals in the sporting world who have made significant contributions to the lives of others.

The duke is being recognised for founding the Invictus Games a decade ago to support injured and sick servicemen and women – both on active duty and veterans – who are navigating physical and invisible injuries.

 The Duke of Sussex gives a thumbs up while in the crowd watching an Invictus Games event
The Duke of Sussex in the crowd at the Invictus Games in Dusseldorf, Germany, last year (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Past recipients include Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, who waged a high-profile campaign to persuade the Government to provide free meals to vulnerable youngsters in England through the school holidays during the Covid pandemic.

ESPN vice-president of production Kate Jackson said: “It’s our privilege to recognise three incredible individuals – Steve Gleason, Dawn Staley and Prince Harry.

“These honourees have used their platforms to change the world and make it more inclusive for marginalised and suffering communities, demonstrating incredible resilience, positivity and perseverance, and we’re thrilled to celebrate them at the 2024 ESPYs.”

ESPN said Harry is being honoured for his “tireless work in making a positive impact for the veteran community through the power of sport”.

Harry in military fatigues speaking from a podium as he launched the Invictus Games in London in 2014
Harry launched the Invictus Games in 2014 (John Stillwell/PA)

It said the Invictus Games has “transcended borders and impacted lives across every continent”.

Harry’s Sussex.com website confirmed the news, announcing: “During this year’s ESPYs, ESPN will recognize exceptional individuals who exemplify courage, perseverance, and service.

“Among the esteemed recipients is Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, who will be honored with the Pat Tillman Award for Service.”

The 2024 ESPY (Excellence in Sport Performance Yearly) ceremony in Los Angeles will be hosted by tennis champion Serena Williams – a friend of the Duchess of Sussex.

Prince Harry, in 2012, in military uniform in the cockpit of an Army helicopter
Harry, pictured in 2012, was in the military for 10 years (John Stillwell/PA)

The Pat Tillman Award for Service is name after former NFL player and US Army Ranger Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

Harry travelled to the UK in May for a special event at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark 10 years of the Invictus Games.

He served on two frontline tours in Afghanistan and spent 10 years in the British armed forces.

But he was stripped of his military patronages by his grandmother the late Queen in 2021, a year after stepping down as a senior working royal.

At the time, the Sussex camp retorted by saying “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal”, prompting accusations they were being disrespectful to the Queen and her decades of public duty.

Gleason, who will receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, is a former NFL player who, after being diagnosed with ALS, set up his Team Gleason charity to support others with the degenerative disease and successfully lobby for the Steve Gleason Act which ensures access to speech generation communication technology in the US.

Staley, Olympic gold-medal winner and University of South Carolina women’s basketball head coach, will receive the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance for her on-court resilience, support for women’s sports and equality, and cancer research campaigning.