Prince Harry Was Reportedly Stunned by the Backlash to His ESPY Award

Insiders say it was a "bitter pill to swallow."

<p>Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images</p>

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

With this year's ESPY Awards just a few days away, royal insiders told The Telegraph that there's a bad vibe hanging over the whole event for Prince Harry, who is set to be honored with the Pat Tillman Award for Service at this year's ceremony. Sources close to Harry say that the criticism that came after the announcement has hit him hard, since the Invictus Games and veterans' affairs are his passion projects.

"Harry’s legacy on Invictus, the things he has achieved, that’s his real passion," they said. "This is the space in which he truly feels at home, it is something he deeply cares about. The reaction certainly took the shine off the award."

They also noted that since Harry's work with veterans is so important to him, the current situation is a "particularly bitter pill to swallow" and has left him stunned at some of the reactions coming from the public.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Earlier this month, Pat Tillman's mother, Mary, revealed that she was unhappy with the choice to honor the Duke of Sussex, calling him a "controversial" figure and that it was a "divisive" move by the ESPYs. Following her statement, ESPN issued a statement explaining how it worked with the Tillman Foundation to choose Harry and reminded the public that Mary doesn't have anything to do with the Tillman Foundation.

"ESPN, with the support of the Tillman Foundation, is honoring Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, specifically for the work of The Invictus Games Foundation as it celebrates its 10th year promoting healing through the power of sport for military service members and veterans around the world," a statement from ESPN read. "While we understand not everyone will agree with all honorees selected for any award, The Invictus Games Foundation does incredible work and ESPN believes this is a cause worth celebrating.”

<p>Jordan Pettitt/PA Images via Getty Images</p>

Jordan Pettitt/PA Images via Getty Images

Kate Jackson, ESPN's vice president of production, announced the news of Harry's honor last month, saying, "It’s our privilege to recognize three incredible individuals: Steve Gleason, Dawn Staley, and Prince Harry."

"These honorees have used their platforms to change the world and make it more inclusive for marginalized and suffering communities, demonstrating incredible resilience, positivity, and perseverance, and we’re thrilled to celebrate them at the 2024 ESPYs," a statement from ESPN added. Harry was chosen for his "tireless work in making a positive impact for the veteran community through the power of sport."

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