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Petition launched to stop Prince Harry receiving sports award for veterans

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition against Prince Harry being given an award created in honour of an American war hero.

The sports network ESPN has announced the Duke of Sussex will get the Pat Tillman Award for his work with the Invictus Games.

The ESPY Award was named after former professional footballer Pat Tillman, who gave up his footballing career to serve in the military after 9/11 and was killed in Afghanistan.

Launched on 27 June, the petition calls for ESPN to “rethink awarding the Pat Tillman Award to Prince Harry” and has gained nearly 32,000 signatures.

The petition was created by Patti Mickel, who writes that the award should be representative of Pat Tillman’s values and “should honor someone who, like Tillman, has shown unwavering dedication to their squad and country”.

The Duke of Sussex, 39, was chosen for the award because of his efforts to use sport to “change the world and make it more inclusive for marginalised and suffering communities”.

Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014 to celebrate the sporting achievements of wounded, sick and injured service people.

The Change.org petition reads: “Prince Harry, while a former military officer, has been involved in controversies that call into question his suitability to receive an honour of this magnitude.

“He has faced accusations of endangering his squadron by publicly revealing military kills.

Prince Harry recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games in the UK and Nigeria.

Prince Harry recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games in the UK and Nigeria. (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The petition references a story in Harry’s book, Spare, in which he writes that he used a Typhoon to target his father’s car during training.

It adds: “More recently, his role in the Invictus games, a platform meant to celebrate the resilience and dedication of veterans, has been criticised as self-centered.”

Harry recently celebrated the anniversary of the Invictus Games at several events in the UK including a thanksgiving service and on a mini-tour of Nigeria with his wife Meghan Markle.

Tillman’s mother, Mary, also criticised the decision to give the Duke the award and said that, in her opinion, there are much more deserving recipients to choose from.

The Prince, who also served in Afghanistan, has reportedly seen none of his immediate family since the announcement of his father’s cancer diagnosis in February.

The Prince, who also served in Afghanistan, has reportedly seen none of his immediate family since the announcement of his father’s cancer diagnosis in February. (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

She told the Mail on Sunday: “I am shocked as to why they would select such a controversial and divisive individual to receive the award.

“There are recipients that are far more fitting. There are individuals working in the veteran community that are doing tremendous things to assist veterans.

“These individuals do not have the money, resources, connections or privilege that Prince Harry has. I feel that those types of individuals should be recognised.”

The Independent has reached out to a representative for Prince Harry for further comment.

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