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Injured veterans charity Help for Heroes will no longer lead Team UK at the Invictus Games after training and selecting the team since Prince Harry launched the event in 2014.
The Ministry of Defence has stripped the charity of its responsibilities and said, going forward, the Royal British Legion will take over leading Team UK at the injured veterans event.
The Government said the decision had been made because the Royal British Legion, of which the Queen is patron, could provide ‘more personnel’, ‘secure funding’ and ‘a commitment to support the team in the future’.
The event was launched by Prince Harry in 2014 after he was inspired by a similar sporting event in the US the year prior. He has not commented on the news publicly.
In a statement issued today, Help for Heroes said it wanted to emphasise that the decision was out of their hands.
Lis Skeet, Services Director at Help for Heroes added: ‘Help for Heroes is incredibly proud to have trained, supported and delivered Team UK for the past five Invictus Games.
Help for Heroes will no longer lead Team UK at the Invictus Games, the event started by Prince Harry for wounded veterans. Pictured: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at this year’s games
The MoD has said the Royal British Legion will lead Team UK at future Invictus Games events
‘However, following extensive discussions, it has been decided by the MOD that the Royal British Legion will lead the end-to-end delivery of Team UK to the Invictus Games for the next five years and will also be the main funder of the programme.
‘Unfortunately, therefore, we will no longer be directly involved in Invictus Team UK.
‘We want to emphasise that this was not a decision we made ourselves. We know The Games continues to play a unique role in shining a light on the abilities of wounded veterans.
‘The MOD considered proposals from the Invictus UK partnership and have chosen this route moving forwards.
‘Our focus now is on helping more people across the UK, within their communities, as part of keeping our promise to be here for wounded veterans for as long as they need us.’
The charity said it would continue to carry out its work, supporting wounded veterans and personnel.
It added: ‘Of course, we will continue to cheer on Team UK and look forward to seeing what the Invictus Games achieves in the future.’
Reports from the Express suggest the charity had wanted to reduce its potential liability if there was a funding shortfall but had insisted it wanted to continue to work with Team UK.
Pictured: Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, 37, congratulates a Team UK medal winner during the swimming at the Invictus Games at Het Hofbad the Hague, Netherlands, last month
The Invictus Games is a multi-sport event, open to all wounded, injured and sick serving personnel and veterans which was launched by Prince Harry back in 2014.
The Duke of Sussex, who is patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, came up with the idea after witnessing the impact sport had on wounded soldiers at the Warrior Games in the US.
The 37-year-old has not spoken publicly about the termination of Help for Heroes’ involvement.
Prior to the announcement, Help for Heroes had been responsible for training 59 competitors who had been selected to represent Team UK since the games’ inception.
This involved hosting training camps and supporting the athletes in the lead up to and at the events.
The MoD insisted that the Royal British Legion provided a more secure future for Team UK’s participation at the games.
Prince Harry launched the event in 2014 after being inspired by the Warrior Games in the USA
The Invictus Games is a cause close to Prince Harry’s heart. Pictured: The Duke of Sussex hugs Team United Kingdom competitor Lisa Johnston during the swimming at this year’s Games
A spokesperson said: ‘The Royal British Legion was able to offer secure funding, more personnel to support the team and a commitment to supporting Team UK into the future.
‘We therefore felt this would be the best choice for Team UK. Our priority is always to ensure Team UK and our wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans get the best experience.
‘We remain enormously grateful for all the work Help For Heroes has done to take Team UK to the Invictus Games and continue to work with them to support the Armed Forces community.’
It is understood the decision was made after an existing partnership agreement came to an end.
Meanwhile, the Invictus Foundation has said it was not part of the decision and will continue to work with the charity.
A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘This was a decision taken by the UK Ministry of Defence following proposals for the team structure moving forward, and not a matter for the Invictus Games Foundation.
‘Across our participating nations, we work alongside many military organisations and charities to support international wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans, including our programmes beyond the Games, and will continue to do so with Help for Heroes.’
The RBL confirmed it would lead Team UK at next year’s games in a statement on its website.
The statement read: ‘Working in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, RBL will deliver Team UK to The Invictus Games in 2023 in Dusseldorf and 2025 in Whistler and Vancouver.
‘We will use our facilities at the Battle Back Centre to support Team UK applicants and participants, and their friends and family, through the Games process.’