Duke of Sussex shakes up Invictus Games by bringing in ex-royal aide

EXCLUSIVE Duke of Sussex shakes up the Invictus Games with help of an ex-royal aide who also worked for his brother William: Prince Harry brings in Nick Booth to run Vancouver-Whistler 2025 amid chaos after TWO top chiefs left abruptly

One of Prince Harry’s most trusted British aides, who also served the Prince and Princess of Wales for years, has taken over the running of the next Invictus Games in Canada amid turmoil at the event, MailOnline can exclusively reveal today.

Nick Booth has stepped in as interim CEO of Vancouver and Whistler 2025, which will feature winter sports for the first time.

Mr Booth stepped into the top job after two senior executives, CEO Peter Lawless and Chief Commercial Office Bill Cooper, left abruptly in the Autumn.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also paid a surprise visit to Vancouver a fortnight ago to meet Invictus staff, appearing at an ice hockey game with local dignitaries shortly after Nick was appointed.

An insider told MailOnline: ‘Nick Booth is one of the Duke of Sussex’s right-hand men. He was instrumental in setting up Invictus with Harry and has been asked to shore up the 2025 games with just over a year to go’.

The Duke of Sussex with Nick Booth when he ran The Royal Foundation with Harry and William, a former royal aide to him and his brother who is now running Invictus 2025 in Vancouver-Whistler

The couple clearly enjoyed being back in Canada – the country where Meghan worked as an actress and they fell in love. Vancouver is hosting the next Invictus Games in 2025 but there has been trouble at the top

The whistleblower has said that morale amongst Vancouver-Whistler staff is now ‘at an all time low’. He said: ‘Nick used to work at the Royal Foundation before leaving and heading to Canada. Harry trusts him implicitly, but the changes have unsettled staff, especially after two such well-liked bosses left’. 

Mr Booth, who also heads up a Canadian national charity called the True Patriot Love Foundation, ran The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry between 2010 and 2017. He also helped initiate Harry’s creation of the Invictus Games for injured veterans.

The Royal Foundation set up by Harry and William was originally opened in 2009 by the brothers, with Kate joining when she became the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011 and Meghan on becoming the Duchess of Sussex in May 2018.

Nick Booth ran it for seven years and was appointed to The Royal Victorian Order by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2017 New Year Honours list.

But less than two years after he moved on, the foundation was broken up when the then-Cambridges and Sussexes went their separate ways. Six months later Meghan and Harry quit as frontline royals and emigrated.

Confirming Mr Booth as interim CEO, an Invictus spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Since the award of the bid for the 2025 Games, Nick has been advising the team, and this transition allowed for a continuity of vision and no disruption to the team working to deliver the Games’.

He added: The entire team behind the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025 is focused and diligently working to host an incredible Games in February 2025, welcoming up to 550 competitors from up to 25 Nations’.

Last month a whistleblower told MailOnline that Prince Harry’s next Invictus Games in Canada – a country loved by him and Meghan Markle – is in ‘turmoil’. 

MailOnline exclusively revealed that CEO Peter Lawless, a lawyer and arguably Canada’s most respected Olympic and Paralympic administrator, left his job suddenly.

An insider claimed that Mr Lawless, who was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal by Harry’s grandmother the Queen in 2012, was fired. An Invictus Games spokesman declined to comment on whether he was sacked, instead saying he had been ‘transitioned out’ and was ‘no longer an employee’ but will remain an ambassador.

Also leaving the Vancouver-Whistler team was Bill Cooper, who was in the role of Chief Commercial Officer for ten months until he left in October. He has thanked colleagues for their support after several praised his ‘grace’ and accused Invictus 2025 of making a big mistake by getting rid of him.

One Games volunteer said that staff are ‘concerned that these recent moves will again overshadow this incredible event for our veterans’. They also raised concerns that the Sussexes’ security and other costs may put a strain on Games finances if Invictus 2025 has to pick up the bill.

Prince Harry and Meghan at the Invictus Games in Germany. The next one, in Canada, has been rocked by the departure of senior staff

CEO Peter Lawless (pictured with Justin Trudeau)  left abruptly. Insiders claim he was sacked. Invictus says he was ‘transitioned out’ and will be an ambassador

In Dusseldorf in September, Meghan turned on the charm as she joined Prince Harry at a reception thrown by the Canadian delegation to promote the 2025 Invictus Games that will feature winter sports for the first time

Prince Harry and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell listen to Peter Lawless during The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Gold Award Winners Ceremony on Day 2 of the Invictus Games in Toronto, 2017

He said that the 2025 Games is facing financial concerns, a claim denied by an Invictus spokesman, despite the Governments of Canada and British Columbia having pledged to spend almost £20m ($30million) to stage the games.

The whistleblower said: ‘CEO Peter Lawless and Chief Commercial Officer Bill Cooper were dismissed for no apparent reason.

Bill Cooper, who was in the role of Chief Commercial Officer for ten months until he left in October

‘This is a significant setback with just over a year to deliver the Games, which I’m told are well over budget and no plan to close the gap even after securing $30million in government support from the Province of British Columbia and the Canadian Federal government’.

The volunteer claims that the departure of the CEO and the Chief Commercial Officer has caused disquiet internally.

He said: ‘As you can expect, the morale among the staff and volunteers is at an all-time low, and Prince Harry and his wife have become a significant distraction with all their troubles.

‘As volunteers, we are concerned that these recent moves will again overshadow this incredible event for our veterans. Enough already’.

MailOnline approached the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to comment on the departures and whether they were involved in the decision to terminate the employment of Lawless and Cooper. They did not respond.

A week after MailOnline broke the story, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle popped up at the ice hockey in Vancouver.

The Duke of Sussex dropped the first puck – just like the Queen did two decades ago – and then the couple drank and danced to Simple Minds as the goals flew in. But they declined to kiss on the big screen.

The California-based couple watched the Vancouver Canucks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 from a VIP box at the Rogers Arena, at one point enjoying the action while cuddling and later jumping in the air to cheer.

But there was an awkward moment when the couple appeared to blush and laughed awkwardly as they flashed up on the jumbotron in the first period, ignoring the cheering crowd willing them on to kiss. In April Harry tried and failed to kiss Meghan on the big screen at a LA Lakers – making a joke of it – but this time he decided against another attempt.

When the Canucks won the match, Harry leapt up and Meghan put down her wine glass so they could both dance to celebrate the victory as Simple Minds’ hit Don’t You Forget About Me played.

Also with them was Markus Anderson, a friend of Meghan’s from Toronto when she was filming Suits, and who helped organize her first date with Harry in London. He is described as the second most important man in her life after her British husband.

Harry’s ceremonial puck drop came 21 years after the late Queen did the same when the teams played each in 2002. She was on an 11-day tour in Canada in honor of her Golden Jubilee. But one of the players involved revealed that he had to repeatedly ask Harry to drop it because ‘he kept holding it and smiling’.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in Canada for work to promote the next Invictus Games.

The Duke and Duchess on the jumbotron giant screen – but they did not kiss for the crowd

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex drops the puck during a ceremonial face-off with Quinn Hughes #43 of the Vancouver Canucks and Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks prior to their NHL game 

The Queen drops the puck in 2002 when the same teams played on her Golden Jubilee tour 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their seats at the Vancouver Canucks with local leaders a fortnight ago

Others in the VIP box with Meghan and Harry were local indigenous leaders, British Columbia premier David Eby and the region’s tourism, arts, culture and sports minister, Lana Popham.

There were Invictus Games staff with them and three indigenous group leaders. Chief Wayne Sparrow, from the Musqueam Indian Band, Wilson Williams, from the Squamish Nation and chief Jennifer Thomas from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Meghan has long been associated with the Soho House properties due to her long-standing friendship with Markus Anderson, the lifestyle club chain’s chief membership officer.

Mr. Anderson was also at the Canucks game, at one point standing with the Duchess of Sussex to cheer the team.

It was Mr. Anderson who arranged a private room at Soho House in London for the Montecito-based couple’s first date, while Meghan threw a low-key hen night ahead of her 2018 wedding at Soho Farmhouse in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, UK.

Mr. Anderson is very good friends with New York-based fashion designer Misha Nonoo, who is said to have introduced Meghan and Harry to each other.

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