Prince Harry remains determined to make it in Hollywood. His new Netflix limited series, “Heart of Invictus,” landed on Netflix on Wednesday. The series features injured soldiers preparing for and competing in the Invictus Games.
It is too early to tell if the series will be a hit, but critics have already called Harry out for sneaking a handful vague complaints about his family into the show.
Aside from their Netflix docuseries — “Harry & Meghan” — the former royal couple has struggled to wedge themselves into the world of Hollywood. “Heart of Invictus” is an attempt from the couple to prove they don’t need to dish on the royal family to make it in Hollywood.
Harry and Meghan were dropped by Spotify earlier this year after failing to live up to their $25 million deal, which required the couple to create multiple podcast series. They made just 12 episodes of the “Archetypes” podcast, prompting Spotify’s head of podcast innovation and monetization to label them “grifters,” per The Guardian.
According to Forbes, Harry and Meghan signed a five-year, $100 million contract with Netflix in 2020 to “produce documentaries, docuseries, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming.”
“Netflix was pleased to sign Harry and Meghan and is looking for some great ideas going forward,” an industry source told The Sun of Harry and Meghan’s Netflix deal.
“But the remainder of the deal relies on them producing those good ideas. The deal’s continually under review which is normal for ones of this magnitude.”
This is the first Netflix project from the couple since their tell-all docuseries in December. While the subject matter is certainly more touching than the bombshell documentary, several critics have brought Harry and Meghan’s intentions into question.
“Will Heart of Invictus be enough to keep the execs sweet? Will it build the brand or undermine it? Will it signify growth or confirm grifterdom?” writes the Guardian. “It should buy the pair some time.”
Despite an overall focus on the Invictus Games and contestants, Harry still finds room to speak candidly about his own experience serving in the army and his lack of support upon returning from the trauma-inducing experience — which several viewers have interpreted as a dig at the royal family.
“His latest Netflix series is supposed to be a test of whether he can get great ratings without swiping at the royals, but he still can’t resist a dig at their stiff upper lip,” panned the Daily Beast.
It might take the couple more than an inspirational limited series to live down the “grifter” comment as well as their infamous reputation for blabbing on the royals — especially after Harry cleared space for a couple vague digs during “Heart of Invictus.” For now, it is good to see Harry recall the “happiest times” in his life and serve others.
What is ‘Heart of Invictus’ about?
The Invictus Games is a competition founded by Harry for wounded, ill or injured service members. The series features a group of injured soldiers as they get ready for the 2022 Invictus Games. As the soldiers overcome their battlefield injuries, they (hopefully) inspire others.
“Since the very first Invictus Games back in 2014, we knew that each competitor would contribute in their own exceptional way to a mosaic of resilience, determination, and resolve. This series will give communities around the world a window into the moving and uplifting stories of these competitors on their path to the Netherlands next year,” said Prince Harry after the series was announced, per Newsweek.
Service men and women participated in adaptive sports such as sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, archery and wheelchair basketball, per the official Invictus Games site.
Reveals from ‘Heart of Invictus’
Prince Harry found room in the series to relate his own experiences serving in Afghanistan to those of the contestants. The former royal spoke candidly about the trauma which came “fizzing out” when he returned home the front lines.
The royal family ‘never discussed’ Diana’s death, resulting in trauma for Harry
Harry lost his mother, Diana, when he was just 12-years-old. Harry revealed that trauma concerning his mother’s untimely death was neglected for years.
“Losing my mum at such a young age, the trauma that I had I was never really aware of,” claims Harry, per the Daily Beast. “It was never discussed. I never really talked about it and I suppressed it like most youngsters would have done.”
After his second tour in Afghanistan, the trauma from his mother’s death was “triggered,” and “the stuff that was coming up was... from the age of 12.”
“From my personal experience, my tour of Afghanistan in 2012, flying Apaches, somewhere after that there was an unraveling.”
Harry says he lacked support when he returned home from Afghanistan
When Harry returned home from his second tour in Afghanistan in 2012, bottled up trauma — including the premature death of his mother — came “fizzing out,” per Daily Beast. The 28-year-old prince struggled to cope and felt he lacked support he needed to feel better.
“The biggest struggle for me was no one around me really could help; I didn’t have that support structure, that network or that expert advice to identify what was actually going on with me,” Harry said, per AP News. “Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you 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.”
Harry hopes other veterans do not suffer from the same lack of support he did.
“I’ve always wanted the Invictus Games and the support that comes with that all year round to be a net to catch those individuals,” Harry said, referring the those in need of support, per the Daily Beast.
Harry was ‘angry’ when he was extracted from Afghanistan in 2008
During his first tour in Afghanistan, Harry’s cover was blown by the Drudge Report, an American website. The site revealed that Harry had been serving in Afghanistan for two months, per the Telegraph.
The reveal brought an end to an agreement with the media that Harry’s deployment to Helmand be kept a secret to protect him and the soldiers around him. Harry was extracted from Afghanistan and sent home.
“The whole reason I was allowed to go to Afghanistan in the first place was because it was kept a secret,” Harry says in the new Netflix series, per the Daily Mail. “To suddenly be on the way home I was angry. But it was important for everyone around me – their safety – to remove me.”
Does Meghan Markle play a role in ‘Heart of Invictus’?
Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, makes a few brief appearances in the series. She has quick cameos in four of the five episodes, according to Town & Country, but the series mostly focuses on Harry and the contestants.
Critic reviews of ‘Heart of Invictus’
Reviews for Netflix limited series, “Heart of Invictus” are mostly positive, but critics still found room to take a few jabs as Prince Harry and question his intentions.
Less than a day after the series’ release, the Netflix show currently has a 45% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
- “Luckily, someone has kept a firm grip on Harry, heading off any sliding into personal vendettas before it can pollute the atmosphere,” writes the Guardian, adding, “The power of sport to unite people, to reopen a world, to provide community, support, stimulation, distraction, a focus on a higher purpose is everywhere on show.”
- “Heart of Invictus is a mess,” panned the Telegraph, adding, “but at least Harry talks about someone else for a change.”
- A review from the Evening Standard poked fun at Harry and Megan, writing, “Heart of Invictus works best because it focuses squarely on those who have suffered real pain and trauma in the service of others rather than, you know, being upset Kate gave you a funny look (Meghan) or William told you to dress up as a Nazi (Harry).”
- “Netflix no doubt saw dividends simply being in business with Harry and Meghan, and lavishing five hours on this material reflects that starry-eyed outlook,” claimed CNN. “Yet even with that disclaimer, there are moments in “Heart of Invictus” where one has to be pretty heartless not to get a bit choked up, and it’s hard to question that its heart is in the right place.”
Watch the trailer for ‘Heart of Invictus’
“The game doesn’t focus on what causes the injury but really about the recovery and how to be part of a community again,” Harry says in the Netflix trailer.
“You are people of substance, of resilience, of strength, you have the heart of Invictus.”
The limited series is available to stream on Netflix.