Prince Harry made an unscheduled video appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, the original British version of Dancing With the Stars, on Saturday, Nov. 14. The Duke of Sussex, who gave up his royal duties in March and has been living in California with wife Meghan Markle and 18-month-son Archie Harrison since the spring, made the TV cameo for a very special reason: To support his longtime friend and fellow British military veteran JJ Chalmers, one of the show contestants.
Harry was shown having a video chat with Chalmers and his dance partner, Amy Dowden. Many Strictly Come Dancing viewers tweeted that the Duke looked "happy," "relaxed" and "healthy." The footage showed Harry grinning as he spoke from a white couch, decorated with printed cushions, while candles and artwork were seen in the background.
The Duke joked, "Nice tan, JJ." He later earnestly praised his friend for his participation on the hit show and drive to succeed.
In an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2011, Chalmers suffered major injuries, including the loss of two fingers. Three years later, Chalmers won medals at the Invictus Games, an international Paralympic-style sports competition for wounded and ill military personnel and vets that Harry founded. The Duke's friend also serves as an ambassador for the annual event.
"When I first met JJ he was a shell of himself, but then to see you shine through Invictus and fell like yourself again, that was the start of an amazing journey," Harry told his friend on Strictly Come Dancing. "I'm so genuinely proud. You're not a dancer, proving that you can do anything you put your mind to, which is amazing."
Chalmers said, "The simple fact is, if Prince Harry had not created the Invictus Games, I would not have had that catalyst moment to change my life forever."
Chalmers said that Harry's vision for the Invictus Games was to help participants and "send them off so they could have an impact on society." Harry joked, "You're definitely having an impact on society. Especially when you're wearing those tight blue shorts."
Chalmers then showed off his shiny shoes. "And the socks pulled up," Harry said. "It doesn't get better than that."
A source close to Harry told E! News, "The Duke was so happy to be able to support his friend and fellow veteran, JJ Chalmers, on this season of Strictly Come Dancing by surprising him during a rehearsal for the show. The Duke is immensely proud of JJ for both his service and how he's persevered through his injury to take on his next big challenge."
"The Duke and JJ first met at the first Invictus Games that Harry created in 2014, when JJ competed for the British team," the source said. "They have become close friends since then, with JJ and his wife attending The Duke and Duchess's wedding. They continue to work together on Invictus and other military projects. Earlier this year, JJ hosted the annual awards for The Duke's charity The Endeavour Fund, which helps wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women take on sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery."
In September, Harry's wife Meghan also made a surprise television appearance on the season finale of the reality competition show America's Got Talent. She recorded a video message for singer Archie Williams, who was released from prison in 2019 after 37 years following his exoneration for a 1982 rape and stabbing of which he was wrongfully convicted.
A senior royal source told The Times that the timing of Harry's cameo on Strictly Come Dancing, a BBC show, was "surprising" given its recent controversy over its 1995 interview with Harry's late mother Princess Diana. A spokesperson for Harry told The Times, "The Duke is obviously aware of it."
Her brother Charles Spencer recently said the network had failed to apologize for what he said were forged documents and "other deceit" which led him to introduce BBC journalist Martin Bashir to the Princess of Wales, according to Reuters. Following the backlash, the BBC said last week it will commission a "robust" investigation into how Bashir landed the interview. During the infamous sit-down, Diana admitted to an affair and also spoke about her failed marriage to Harry's father Prince Charles.