IMAGE ID G8XKX8 Prince Harry with JJ Chalmers at the 2016 Invictus Games 110516 CREDIT PA Images, Alamy Stock Photo cover image
Prince Harry with former competitor and now commentator JJ Chalmers (right) during the Invictus Games 2016 (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).
Invictus Games

JJ Chalmers: I'm forever grateful to my friend Prince Harry

Former marine JJ Chalmers said the Duke of Sussex is "someone I dearly love" and explained why he is "forever grateful" to him.

IMAGE ID G8XKX8 Prince Harry with JJ Chalmers at the 2016 Invictus Games 110516 CREDIT PA Images, Alamy Stock Photo cover image
Prince Harry with former competitor and now commentator JJ Chalmers (right) during the Invictus Games 2016 (Picture: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo).

Former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers has said he would not be here today if it were not for his friend the Duke of Sussex.

Now part of the Invictus Games commentary team and a TV presenter, Mr Chalmers credits Prince Harry as "one of the key people who created one of the key catalysts in my recovery".

The TV presenter was injured in a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2011 while serving as a Royal Marine and said he is "forever grateful" to Harry.

Mr Chalmers has competed in the sporting event for wounded, injured and sick service personnel, founded by Prince Harry in 2014, claiming a gold and bronze medal in the recumbent road cycling and also a bronze in the 4x100m mixed relay.

Now serving solely as a commentator for the Invictus Games, he told the Big Issue magazine: "I listened to the Royal wedding, William's wedding [to Kate Middleton in 2011], on a wind-up radio in Afghanistan.

"Seven years later, I was at a Royal wedding [of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex].

"How that happened is utterly bizarre. Harry's a friend of mine and someone I dearly love and wish the best for.

"I wouldn't be here talking to you if it wasn't for him. Not to lay all of it at his feet, but he's one of the key people who created one of the key catalysts in my recovery."

He added: "For that, I'll be forever grateful."

The Duke of Sussex recently made a surprise video call to Team UK Invictus Games competitors, which as well as a congratulatory message, included him joking with one of his instructors from Sandhurst

Watch: Prince Harry surprises Invictus Games competitors.

Former Royal Marine Mr Chalmers said he would advise his younger self to better prepare his family and loved ones for the eventualities of what could happen to him while he was serving in Afghanistan.

He said: "When you wake up from a coma and look up at your family, you realise you could probably have been more honest.

"For the person who woke up from that coma, I'd love to tell him it is going to be all right… but not just by magic. It will be all right because of the people around you, your friends and family, the surgeons and doctors."

Mr Chalmers added: "In some ways, it is like I was born again after Afghanistan. Physically I had to be born again. We had to rebuild my body. 

"I had to learn to walk, learn to eat, learn to do everyday functions again. And all sorts of aspects of me had massively changed.

"My disability is far more complicated than just being blown up. That's not my disability, that's my mechanism of injury."

He added: "If you look at how my story was told on Strictly Come Dancing, it all tied back to my being blown up. While a story is a fascinating and sexy thing to tell, and we talk about 'overcoming your disability', you don't actually overcome your disability.

"You can overcome the initial trauma, you can get healthy, you can get fit, but what you learn to do is live with your disability and adapt your circumstances."

Last year, Mr Chalmers "burst into tears" on a flight to the Tokyo Paralympic Games, when he was reunited with the life-saving pilot who flew him out of Afghanistan a decade ago after he was injured. 

Mr Chalmers will be part of the BBC commentary team for the Invictus Games which has its opening ceremony on Saturday, then runs from Sunday 17 April until Friday 22 April.