Harry's friend JJ Chalmers suffered life-threatening injuries serving in Afghanistan and is now appearing on the U.K. version of Dancing with the Stars

By Phil Boucher and Simon Perry
October 19, 2020 02:26 PM
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Credit: Chris Jackson - WPA Pool /Getty

Prince Harry‘s close friend JJ Chalmers says the Duke of Sussex gave him a second chance in life.

"I wouldn’t be stood here today if it wasn’t for the Invictus Games and we would never have had that if it wasn’t for him," Chalmers said about Harry's key charity patronage during the Saturday launch of the U.K. version of Dancing with the Stars — called Strictly Come Dancing.

Chalmers's appearance on the hit show marks the latest stage in a remarkable journey that began when he suffered life-threatening injuries to his arms, face, and legs while serving with the elite Royal Marines in Afghanistan.

During his lengthy recovery, Chalmers — who also sustained a broken neck and burst eardrums when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated on patrol — volunteered for Invictus, becoming captain of the trike cycling team at the first event in 2014 and picking up a gold medal.

On Saturday's premiere, he paid tribute to Harry, who he first met while serving in the military, for everything Invictus has done for him both physically and mentally.

"He should be extremely proud that he’s managed to get one of his boys to this point," the former Commando added. "So, yeah, I hope he’s watching."

While Harry has been a driving force in his recovery, however, that doesn't mean Chalmers expects him to be entirely supportive of his decision to swap military fatigues for dance shoes and sequined shirts.

Speaking to The One Show, Chambers said, "Yeah so I’ve heard back from him and like all my friends from the military he just thinks first and foremost it’s absolutely ridiculous of course and it’s hilarious."

“But at the same time...the Invictus Games was founded to give opportunities. Not just for us to recover physically which this is, a physical test but to have a life beyond injury, beyond recovery," he added. "So he’s incredibly proud of anybody that goes on to succeed in whatever chosen field they’re in and this is a progression within my career and he’ll be looking on with pride.”

Chambers also told the BBC Radio Wales’s show, “I am here today because of that man and because what he created and I hope he’s proud that this proves there is a life beyond injury essentially and that’s what he wanted to do.”

Prince Harry, JJ Chalmers

“You get rebuilt and you learn to use that body – it takes years. And then one day, you learn how to dance with that body and that’s where we are now," he said.

As for Saturday's launch show, which saw him dance live in front of TV cameras for the first time, Chalmers added, “It was great fun. It’s a real baptism of fire. We had one day in total to practice it and then you go and do it in front of nine million people. That is wild, but we survived it.”

Earlier this year, Chalmers also opened up about his friend's bombshell decision to step back as a senior member of the royal family in order to “protect his family.”

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in Toronto, 2017
| Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage

“He’s less the captain in the army I knew, and he’s more a father that’s the first thing I ask him about,” Chalmers, 33, told the BBC's The One Show.

“And I think the decision that he has made, at the forefront of that is to protect his family because that’s the number one rule is to be a father and to be a husband,” Chalmers said.

Chalmers also shared that Harry wants to set a good example for his and Meghan Markle's son Archie.

“He is a very principled individual and so when he looks as how the media reacts and how social media talks about someone, he has to answer to his son one day when he begins to understand this and be able to look him in the face and say, ‘I made the right decision and I did right by you,'” Chalmers said on The One Show.

“And ultimately he grew up in the limelight and knows how it will end if this isn’t handled correctly,” Chalmers added, in reference to Harry’s mother Princess Diana‘s 1997 death.