Britain’s royal family are almost as beloved by the paparazzi as there are by the public, with none more so than Prince Harry. He may have been only sixth in line to the throne, but the royal once dubbed a “wild child”’ by the tabloid press has long lived a rock-star life. With his A-list friends, lavish lifestyle, and a maelstrom of media attention, Harry has a lifestyle even Mick Jagger in his prime might have envied.
As you might expect, Harry and his wife, actress Meghan Markle, count a whole host of famous faces among their closest friends. Oprah was among those who made the star-studded guest list for their wedding, while the pair count Amal and George Clooney in their inner circle. What’s more, the couple were invited by Sir Elton John to holiday at his stunning French villa last year.
As if a life rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in Tinseltown wasn’t enough, Harry’s missus Meghan has ensured the pair continue to hit the headlines with her latest collaboration with Disney. The Duchess of Sussex recently lent her vocal talents to a nature documentary, Elephants, streamed via the Disney+ platform. It’s a move that’s sure to keep the couples’ names in lights (and on the front pages).
While Harry’s “wild child” days might be behind him, his star is far from on the wane. In fact, he and Meghan look set to be catapulted into the ranks of worldwide megastars. That’s partly because they’re reportedly planning to follow in the famous footsteps of their friends, Barack and Michelle Obama. Just like the presidential power couple, Harry and Meghan are to head up a new charitable foundation, set to be named “Archewell.”
If you’re thinking that Harry and Meghan’s future plans seem rather removed from the day-to-day goings-on at Buckingham Palace, you’d be exactly right. In fact, Meghan and Harry recently stepped back from their senior roles within the royal family in a move that shocked the world and rocked the royal family. The couple’s decision was virtually unprecedented in modern times.
After their shock announcement, it seemed as though the entire world was in a frenzy over Harry and Meghan’s decision to take a step back from the royal family. The media likened the couple’s split from the monarchy to Britain’s exit from the European Union. News of “Megxit” dominated headlines the world over.
Pundits and the public alike attempted to digest just exactly what Harry and Meghan’s decision might mean. The two announced their intention to go transatlantic, splitting their time between Meghan’s native North America and Harry’s home of the United Kingdom. Such a jet-setting lifestyle could surely only further increase Harry’s rock-star reputation.
Although the couple made their shock announcement back in January, their royal role only came to end on March 31. Since then, the couple and their son Archie have swapped Britain’s shores for the sunnier climes of California. They’ve also ceased posting to the whopping 11.3 million people who followed them under the handle @sussexroyal. A new era for the rock-star royals has begun.
Harry and Meghan’s decision is hardly a conventional one. But then again, Prince Harry has never been a conventional royal. Since his early days, Harry has had a superstar reputation. The flame-haired royal has long been a darling of the tabloid press, the very same people to bestow the distinctly unroyal title of ‘wild child’ on him in his youth.
Certainly, Harry’s behaviour has been more akin to that of a rock star than a royal on occasion. He owned up to getting drunk and smoking weed at the tender age of 17, while some years later, gossip website TMZ published pictures of him entirely in the nip in a Las Vegas hotel suite during a game of strip billiards. He also had a string of high-profile romances, including one with ‘it girl’ model and actress Cressida Bonas.
Prince Harry may have played the role of roguish royal at times during his youth, but he later played another role with distinction: that of war hero. After attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the prince joined the ranks of the British Army and traveled to Afghanistan. During his service, he trained as a pilot of military helicopters, later reaching the rank of commander.
Harry’s military career was a distinguished one. During his time serving queen and country, the royal was said to have been the best in his class during his rigorous pilot training. In 2008 Harry’s bravery was recognised when he was presented with an Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan by his aunt, Princess Anne.
It was Harry’s time in the army that spurred him on to create the Invictus Games. These games are an international sporting event that sees injured servicemen and women, as well as war veterans, compete across a number of different sports. Begun in 2014, the games have gone from strength to strength since their auspicious beginnings.
The idea for the event first came to Harry after he attended a similar event for injured servicemen and women, the Warrior Games, in the U.S. in 2013. The royal was so inspired by what he saw that he resolved to establish a new competition, this time an international one, along similar lines. Thus began the Invictus Games.
The decision to call the new event the “Invictus Games” was a significant one. In fact, the name comes from William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus” (and fittingly, the poet was himself an amputee.) Translated from the original Latin, invictus means “unconquered,” which as the games’ website itself points out “embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and sick service personnel.”
The first ever Invictus Games took place in 2014. At the launch event in London, Prince Harry spoke of the competition’s powerful potential. He told of how the games would “demonstrate the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and demonstrate life beyond disability.” It was a prophecy that would certainly come to be fulfilled.
Just two years on from the triumphant London Olympics in 2012, a number of the competition’s venues were once again pressed into use for the inaugural Invictus Games. Thirteen countries participated in the competition, with hundreds of former servicemen and women battling it out for glory in the games. Among the performers at the competition’s closing concert was singer James Blunt, who had served alongside Harry in the army.
Two years later the games were to get their second outing: this time across the pond in Orlando, Florida. In a testament to the value and power of the event, the 2016 Invictus Games were launched by then-First Lady Michelle Obama. Once again, athletes competed in a number of sports, including archery, wheelchair rugby, and paralympic swimming.
In Toronto the following year the Invictus Games grew still bigger and brighter, with Ukraine and Romania participating for the first time. Speaking at the closing ceremony for the event, Prince Harry paid tribute to the inspirational bravery of the competitors who embody the spirit of the competition. Acknowledging the athletes were “at the summit of a mountain many of you thought was too high to climb,” he said simply: “You are Invictus.”
For their next outing, the games took place somewhat further afield, in Sydney, Australia. This time, 18 nations and 500 competitors got involved. Showing she can match her husband in giving an inspiring address, the Duchess of Sussex captured the spirit of the games in a touching speech, saying, “It’s not just cheering on your own, but realising that by the end of this week, ‘your own’ becomes everyone in the Invictus family.”
The “family” are soon to regroup once again, this time in the Netherlands. Plans are already afoot for the next edition of the games, scheduled to take place next year in The Hague. No doubt with Harry at the helm as patron once more, fans and wellwishers the world over, as well as the competitors themselves, can look forward to a celebration of bravery and spirit.
Prince Harry’s charitable work as patron of the Invictus Games may seem a million miles from the rock-star-style wild moments of his youth. Yet it is precisely this very work that has just steered the royal firmly towards the world of rock ‘n’ roll. In fact, thanks to the Invictus Games, Harry has just made arguably his biggest showbiz move ever.
What exactly could this have been? Well, if there’s one classic rock-star move, then it’s recording a great single. And believe it or not, that’s precisely what Prince Harry has done, with some help from the members of the Invictus Choir and a certain Jon Bon Jovi, no less.
The prince and the “Livin’ on a Prayer” hitmaker got together in London this February when Bon Jovi recorded a reworked version of his single “Unbroken”. The track, which is set to feature on the rocker’s upcoming studio album Bon Jovi: 2020 was originally part of a documentary about veterans, To Be of Service. The program tells the stories of veterans who are dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as the service dogs who help them.
Given that the song was originally written for and about veterans, it’s fitting that the track was chosen for this particular collaboration. That’s because all of the monies generated from sales of the song are to be donated to the Invictus Games Foundation in order to support ill or injured military personnel. In addition, the track features the vocal talents of the 12-strong Invictus Choir of former servicepeople.
What’s not entirely clear, however, is whether this new version of “Unbroken” features the vocals of Prince Harry himself, as he’s not actually credited on the track. That said, fans were in a frenzy after he and Bon Jovi got together at London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios in February. Harry caused a huge stir by documenting the event on Instagram.
Abbey Road Studios has seen more than its fair share of musical legends pass through its hallowed halls over the years. During the 1960s, it played host to The Beatles, who famously called one of their albums “Abbey Road.” This time, actual royalty followed musical royalty as Harry and Bon Jovi paid a visit to one of the rooms in which the Fab Four actually recorded.
Taking to Instagram, Prince Harry treated the world to a behind-the-scenes sneak peek into the musical moment he and Bon Jovi shared in a fun video. In the clip, the veteran rocker offers some sage words of reassurance to an apparently nervous Harry. “Just pretend you’re singing in your bedroom,” the silver-haired crooner advises.
Sadly, the video cuts off just at the moment when the pair are about to burst into song, meaning fans miss the chance to learn whether the prince is blessed with perfect pitch. Instead, the public will have to take Bon Jovi’s word on the musical talents of the monarchy. The songster, who’s also sung with Harry’s brother William, revealed on the day that both brothers “have a set of pipes.”
Of course, any visit to London – and Abbey Road studios, in particular – wouldn’t be complete without a recreation of that Beatles album cover featuring the Fab Four on the Abbey Road crosswalk. Luckily, Bon Jovi got to tick this must-do off his sightseeing list, too. He, Harry and two members of the Invictus Choir took a picture-perfect photo on the famous zebra crossing.
Since their musical meeting, it’s become apparent that Bon Jovi and Harry are in perfect harmony. New Jersey native Bon Jovi has been keen to sing the prince’s praises, describing him as “a wonderful young man” to the BBC. And if the “Bed of Roses” hitmaker is to be believed, the feeling is mutual: he went on to reveal that the royal is a fan of Bon Jovi.
But what exactly did (as Bon Jovi described him to the BBC) “the artist formerly known as Prince” have to say about the collaboration? Well, the father-of-one has spoken about the song’s potential to help former servicepeople. Explaining that “there’s a way of being able to talk about the scars of war in a positive way,” the Daily Express newspaper reported in March 2020 that Harry described the project’s participants as “the kind of ambassadors and role models that we need.”
Unsurprisingly, it isn’t only Prince Harry himself who has had plenty of praise for the musical collaboration. One of the choir members, who served as a nurse with the Royal Navy, has spoken out about her experiences in the project, the Irish Mirror newspaper reported at the time. The woman in question, 61-year-old Susan Warner, was wounded while on active duty in Afghanistan, and took part in the Invictus Games in 2016.
The brave Belfast native described the recording session with Bon Jovi as “a poignant moment” that will be treasured. Praising the prince, who she first met back in 2016, Susan applauded Harry’s humility. In a show of true Invictus spirit she also expressed a wish that the track might help those all over the globe and act as a “light during this troubling time.”
Meanwhile, American music magazine and creator of the “Billboard music charts”, Billboard, also offered effusive praise for the endeavor. Explaining that the new track sees Harry and Bon Jovi lifting people’s spirits, the music bible described the tune as “rousing” and “eagerly-anticipated.” Also highly commended were the Invictus Choir’s impressive vocals.
It’s not only the professionals in the music business who have voiced their support for the project, however. In an age where social media reigns supreme, a quick glance at an artist’s social media channels gives a telling insight into just how a new venture has been received. Needless to say, “Unbroken” has been on the receiving end of a great deal of praise.
A series of snaps of the day of recording posted to Jon Bon Jovi’s Instagram account proved a major hit, racking up 66,228 “likes.” Taking to the comments section of the photo-sharing site, one fan exclaimed, “Wow that’s amazing!”, while another wrote simply, “Awesome.”
Proving still-more-popular was an audio clip of the song itself, posted on the star’s Instagram just one month later. Hitting a whopping 86,493 views, it’s clear the song has proved a triumph amongst Bon Jovi’s fans. Meanwhile, over on YouTube, the accompanying music video received almost 350,000 hits in less than two weeks.
Be it the public or the professionals, it’s clear then that “Unbroken” has won legions of fans and an outpouring of goodwill. The story of the struggles of those brave men and women who serve their countries has – and will continue to – touch the hearts of many. It’s a song and a project truly befitting the extraordinary, “unconquered” spirit of the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry’s latest project may seem a million miles away from the kind of rock-star debauchery and excesses for which he was famed in his youth. And yet, by connecting with one of the genre’s legends, Harry appears to have somehow come full circle and returned to his glitzy roots. Unexpected, perhaps, but then again: that’s showbiz for you!