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Prince Harry’s Pat Tillman Award Undermined by Polling


Prince Harry’s controversial Pat Tillman Award has the support of just a fifth of Americans, according to exclusive polling for Newsweek.

The Duke of Sussex is due to be given an ESPY in a glitzy ceremony in Los Angeles on July 11 but the move sparked a backlash after Tillman’s mother objected.

She said Harry was too controversial and too privileged to be handed the honor, which she suggested should go to an unsung hero, and many Americans appear to agree.

Prince Harry and the U.S. Flag
Prince Harry is seen wearing his Invictus Games branded shirt alongside the U.S. flag in a composite image. He is due to be given the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYs on July…


Patrick van Katwijk/WireImage

Newsweek asked polling agency Redfield & Wilton to survey a representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adults on July 8.

And 38 percent said ESPN was wrong to give the Pat Tillman Award for Service to Prince Harry at the ESPYs, while 21 percent said it was the right call.

The duke can console himself with the fact 41 percent said they did not know, though the data does still appear to support Mary Tillman’s contention that he is a controversial figure.

She recently 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.”

And it all adds to the pressure on Prince Harry’s decision about whether to go to the ESPYs to collect his award in person, at the Dolby Theatre, in Los Angeles, on Thursday.

Nick Ede, a U.K. based brand and culture expert, told Newsweek: “This is really tough for him because he’s between a rock and hard place.

“He’s obviously gone with good will to be a person whose due to receive an award for his service but the biggest issue is there’s been a massive petition against him and the backlash is really negative.

“At the moment, Meghan’s obviously preparing to launch her new brand, he’s trying to rebrand himself, its so hard because if he’s a no show or he turns it down it looks like he’s agreeing with what everyone’s saying.

“But if he goes for it he’ll be up for ridicule but he’s been up for that before anyway. He could accept it but on behalf of everybody who has taken part at the Invictus Games, the battalions that he served with when he was in the army, and kind of make it more an award that he’s picking up on behalf of everyone else. And he could maybe suggest making a donation to the charity.”

In Newsweek‘s polling, opposition was higher among men (41 percent) than women (35 percent), who were also more ambivalent with 46 percent answering “don’t know” compared to 41 percent of men. And 19 percent of women supported Harry compared to 23 percent of men.

Would-be Donald Trump voters were also more likely to object (48 percent) than those planning to vote Joe Biden (28 percent). They were also less likely to support Harry at 20 percent, compared to 26 percent among the current president’s supporters.

Harry, by contrast, had the most support among Gen Z (28 percent) and millennials (27 percent) and the least among Gen X (15 percent) and boomers (14 percent).

Not everyone objected to Harry being given the award, in recognition of his work with the Invictus Games spanning 10 years.

Past recipient Jake Wood recently told TMZ: “I look at Prince Harry and I see someone who I see as deserving. Here is a man that served his country, served alongside me and my fellow Americans in Afghanistan.

“He chose a dangerous job flying Apache helicopters. And let’s put it out there, he’s a royal prince. There’s a hundred different things Harry could have done with his life.”

ESPN said in a statement this month: “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.

“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.”

Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on X (formerly Twitter) at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.

Do you have a question about Charles and Queen Camilla, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry, or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We’d love to hear from you.