6 royal revelations about Prince Harry and more in Netflix docuseries "Heart of Invictus"

The five-part series spotlights several war-veterans-turned-athletes and Harry throwing shade at his family

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published August 31, 2023 10:12PM (EDT)

Prince Harry in “Heart of Invictus” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
Prince Harry in “Heart of Invictus” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Only a few months after the release of their two-part docuseries "Harry & Meghan," the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are back with another Netflix docuseries, this one more focused on a group of wounded war veterans who found solace in competitive sports

Called "Heart of Invictus," the Netflix docuseries spotlights the 2022 Invictus Games, a global sporting event founded by Prince Harry shortly after his 2008 tour of duty in Afghanistan. In addition to his military service, Harry said he drew inspiration from the Warrior Games in the United States, where he witnessed the power sports can have on wounded, injured and sick veterans. Over the course of five episodes, the documentary introduces us to several ex-military competitors who strive to find purpose and strength after tragedy and loss.

Although Harry takes on a more background role throughout "Heart of Invictus," he still makes several appearances — sometimes on his own and other times, alongside a few veterans and his wife. In true celebrity fashion, he also uses those moments to spark some buzz by throwing subtle shade at his family, namely his father King Charles III. In recent months, both Harry and Meghan have embarked on a media campaign to reinforce their separation from the Royal Family and heighten their own public image. First came "Harry & Meghan" and then, "Spare," Harry's tell-all memoir released earlier this year. "Heart of Invictus" is the couple's third (and probably not final) platform that could be used to garner support from their fans, followers and naysayers.

That being said, "Heart of Invictus" is incredibly moving. But, it's also incredibly juicy. Here are six of the ways Harry takes aim at the Royal Family in the series:

Harry refrains from using royal titles in introduction
Heart of InvictusPrince Harry in "Heart of Invictus" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

In January 2020, Harry and Meghan Markle stepped back as senior members of The Royal Family following tensions with the monarch and squabbles with the press. The couple, however, still use their respective royal titles: Duke of Sussex and Duchess of Sussex.


In the beginning of the first episode, Harry avoided mentioning his associations with the monarch after an interviewer asked him to state his name.


"My name's Harry," he replied, before the interviewer asked, "What do you do, Harry?"


"What do I do? On any given day? I'm a dad of two under 3-year-olds, I have got a couple of dogs, I'm a husband, and I'm the founding patron of the Invictus Games Foundation," Harry said. "There's lots of hats that one wears, but I believe today is all about Invictus."

Harry's Afghanistan tour of duty triggered trauma of losing his mother
Heart of InvictusPrince Harry in "Heart of Invictus" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Harry said he experienced an "unraveling" after serving on the front lines in Afghanistan, which consequently triggered the trauma of losing his mother, Princess Diana.


"I can only speak for my personal experience, my tour of Afghanistan in 2012 flying Apaches, somewhere after that there was an unraveling and the trigger to me was actually returning from Afghanistan," he said. "But the stuff that was coming up was from 1997, from the age of 12, losing my mum at such a young age, the trauma that I had I was never really aware of, it was never discussed."


Harry continued, "I didn't really talk about it. I suppressed it like most youngsters would have done — but then when it all came fizzing out I was bouncing off the walls, I was like, 'What is going on here? I am now feeling everything as opposed to being numb.'"


The British Army veteran previously opened up about his tour of duty in Afghanistan in his memoir "Spare." In it, he described the military tour as one of his most vulnerable moments


"In my life I've felt totally helpless only four times," Harry wrote. "In the back of the car while Mummy and Willy and I were being chased by paps. In the Apache above Afghanistan, unable to get clearance to do my duty. At (Nottingham Cottage) when my pregnant wife was planning to take her life. And now," he said, referring to the time when Meghan lost "so much blood" after she miscarried.

Harry says his mother's death made him "unable to feel" for years
Heart of InvictusPrince Harry in "Heart of Invictus" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Trauma is a recurring topic throughout the series as Harry joined the Invictus competitors to discuss PTSD and the toll of war. One such conversation was with Canadian indoor rower and veteran Darrell Ling, who told Harry, "I'm glad you've been through this stuff and know how we feel."


Harry then shared how greatly his mother's death affected him during his childhood and later, as an adult:


"I can't pretend to know what you've been through, but I had that moment in my life where, I didn't know about it, but because of the trauma of losing my mum when I was 12, for all those years, I had no emotion, I was unable to cry, I was unable to feel.


"I didn't know it at the time. And it wasn't until later in my life aged 28 there was a circumstance that happened that the first few bubbles started coming out, and then suddenly it was like someone shook and it went 'poof' — and then it was chaos," he added.

Harry blames family for difficulty coping with trauma
Heart of InvictusPrince Harry and Meghan Markle in "Heart of Invictus" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

In an apparent jab at his father and family, Harry revealed his "biggest struggle" while coping with his trauma was that "no one around me could really help."


"I didn't have that support structure, that network or that expert advice to identify what was actually going on with me," he said. Harry added that he decided to seek help for his mental health only years later, when it became incredibly debilitating for him: 


"Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you really consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the fetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously, and that's what I really want to change."

Harry says he learned how to manage his emotions on his own
Heart of InvictusPrince Harry and David Wiseman in "Heart of Invictus" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

"My emotions were sprayed all over the wall, everywhere I went, and I was like, 'How the hell do I contain this?' I've gone from nothing to everything," Harry said. "I've gone from nothing to everything and I now need to get a glass jar and put myself in it, leave the lid open. My therapist said, 'You choose what comes in and everything else bounces off.'"


This isn't the first time Harry opened up about his family, namely his father, being allegedly distant following Diana's death. Elsewhere in "Spare," Harry claimed his father didn't even hug him once he learned that he had lost his mother forever.


"Pa didn't hug me. He wasn't great at showing emotions under normal circumstances. How could he be expected to show them in such a crisis?" Harry wrote.


"His hand did fall once more on my knee and he said, 'It's going to be OK.' That was quite a lot for him. Fatherly, hopeful, kind. And so very untrue."

Yes, Meghan also makes a few appearances throughout the series
Heart of InvictusPrince Harry and Meghan Markle in "Heart of Invictus" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Although most of the focus is on the games, its competitors and Harry, the docuseries also features Meghan, who's seen accompanying her husband in a few clips. In one scene, Meghan is seen reassuring Harry before he goes on stage to deliver a speech to veterans in New York.


In anticipation of this year's games, which are slated to take place in Düsseldorf from Sept. 9 to 16, a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex told PEOPLE last week that Meghan will also be in attendance at the games with her husband. 


"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are delighted to attend the Invictus Games 2023 in Düsseldorf. The Duke will be in attendance throughout the entirety of the games and will be joined by The Duchess shortly after the games begin," they said in a statement.

"Heart of Invictus" is currently available for streaming on Netflix. Watch a trailer for it below, via YouTube:


By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Docuseries Heart Of Invictus List Meghan Markle Netflix Prince Harry Royal Family