Thanks to a disclosure from his wife, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry took a minute to congratulate veterans at the Invictus Games and acknowledge that things might be getting “a little bit more competitive” now that a new country has joined the competition.
The sixth Invictus Games, which are being staged for the first time in Germany, began on Saturday with a speech from The Duke of Sussex, 38, during the opening ceremony. Harry gave advice on self-discovery and teamwork while speaking in Düsseldorf. He also made a playful reference to Meghan, 42.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Harry mentioned some of the new countries competing in the games, such as Colombia, Israel, and Nigeria. He said that his family was a big supporter of Nigeria.
“Now, I’m not saying we play favorites in our home, but since my wife discovered she’s of Nigerian descent, it’s likely to get a little bit more competitive this year,” he acknowledged, referencing Meghan uncovering that she is 43% Nigerian, thanks to an ancestry test year back, which she talked about in October 2022.
The Duke of Sussex even started off his speech in German before saying that the past year “went very fast,” going “from stroopwafel to schnitzels in the blink of an eye.”
“Now, remember that feeling of pride and honor when you first wore your nation’s flag on your uniform? Most of us perhaps remember more its final outing or the time we hung it up for good,” Harry said. “Am I right in saying for some, it represented a cape? Perhaps a shield, or an escape? For others, an opportunity, a recognition, or a calling? No matter what it meant to you then, or your reasons for signing up, it was always about being of service to others and to your mates.”
“You discovered things about yourself you’d never knew. Skills and abilities you didn’t know that you had,” he added. “You unlocked your potential and performance. And you understood the power of working as a team. Ultimately, you were part of a purpose larger than yourself, and that feeling felt good. And I’m guessing a lot of you in this stadium tonight have felt the absence of that feeling for months, maybe years. Well, not anymore.”
The Duke of Sussex then requested that everyone present examine their present outfits, noting that they might not be fitting they are “once again part of a team” and are “surrounded by people who know what it means to serve, who have a good idea of what it’s taken to get here, who see and know you, and who respect you through your shared experience.”
“This year’s games is a home for respect. Think about that word for a second, respect. What does it mean to you? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Some people may act like respect is something that veterans are asking for, that people with injuries — whether visible or invisible — have to demonstrate they’re worthy of it,” Harry added. “Some of you here may sometimes feel that way about yourselves. That you have something to prove.”
“But I’ve been thinking about something one of the competitors featured in the Heart of Invictus shared. Mr Na from South Korea said, ‘I don’t think we overcome disabilities. We overcome perceptions of ourselves in society.’ These games are not solely about medals… They are about overcoming any and all perceptions that held you back, especially those you’ve placed on yourselves.”
Next, the founder of the Invictus Games exhorted the audience to “break those ceilings” and “plow down the highest of walls” in order to “make space for what’s deserved.”