Whatever kind of attention they attract, there’s no doubting Harry and Meghan have star quality and the ability to get people interested in their projects, as shown by the several multi-million dollar deals they signed upon their departure from the Royal Family.
Although the commercial success of Spare and their Netflix docu-series Harry & Meghan showed their dispute with the Firm can certainly generate headlines, it has lost them the respect and approval of members of the public who were so excited by a fresh new face in the Royal Family just five years ago.
According to polling by YouGov and Newsweek the couple’s popularity has fallen behind those of most other royals, and Spare in particular was the subject of widespread ridicule and parody upon its release.
With Invictus though it’s different. In his addresses at the opening and closing ceremonies Harry was compassionate, honest and engaging, but most importantly of all he understood how to let the Games and its inspiring competitors speak for themselves.
As a veteran himself Harry naturally understands the experiences of some of those competing to a degree, but when he founded Invictus in 2014 he harnessed the power of his royal status to draw attention to those suffering from severe mental and physical injuries and allow them to tell their own stories and shape their own narrative.
This focus on philanthropy has previously served the couple well, as while still working royals they championed initiatives such as the Together community cookbook, contributed to by those living in Grenfell, and the mental health charity Heads Together.
Harry has even said that Meghan’s dedication to helping others in India, Rwanda and elsewhere around the world was one of the reasons he was so drawn to her when they first met.
At Invictus they demonstrated their international appeal, not as royal-adjacent California celebrities but as two people using their fame to benefit others who could be a powerful force for good, similarly to Harry’s beloved mother Princess Diana.
When they stepped down as working royals in 2020 the Sussexes expressed their desire to “embark on a new chapter in their lives”, and by focusing on causes such as Invictus they could do just that.
Another unfortunate rumour that has dogged the Sussexes in 2023 is concerns that their relationship is in trouble, however at Invictus their frequent affectionate displays towards each other appeared to show they are still very much in love.
Working royal couples such as Prince William and Princess Kate could not get away with such open touchy-feely behaviour, demonstrating how without the constraints of royal protocol Harry and Meghan can feel free to show their true feelings.
Freedom and self-expression are at the heart of what Invictus is about, alongside challenging competitors and spectators alike, to be the best they can be and not give into negative stereotypes and doubt.
Let us hope that this message is the one that Harry and Meghan take forward into the Invictus Games 2025 in Canada and beyond, to focus on their positive impact and leave out the petty dramas.