Meghan and Harry devoted an entire day to the Invictus Games in Sydney. After an afternoon spent watching the wheelchair basketball final, they concluded the day attending the main event: the Closing Ceremonies.
Meghan and Harry arrived at the closing ceremony at 7.30pm and started off with a speech from our beloved duke.
It was Harry who founded Invictus Games after visiting the Warrior Games back in 2013, a competition for wounded servicemen organized by the U.S. Department of Defense. Harry was so amazed by the organization that he “stole” (his words) the idea and brought it back to the UK.
“He saw how the power of sport could help physically, psychologically and socially,” reads the Invictus Games website. “His mind was made up. London would host the inaugural Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel.”
Just one year later, the first Invictus Games took place in London.
During his speech, Harry paid tribute to the 500 athletes, who came together in Sydney to compete in 11 sporting events, including indoor rowing, archery, powerlifting, wheelchair tennis, sitting volleyball, and pool games of wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
“These men and women are role models; they are men and women who have confronted a challenge and overcome it. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And with the help of their friends and families, they have exceeded every expectation.”
Harry also gave specific shout-outs to several competitors to illustrate the Games’ inspirational spirit of “determination, of optimism, of strength, honor, and friendship, or as the Aussies call it ‘mateship.’
Among those participants receiving special recognition were Paul Guest and Edwin Vermetten, who Harry said supported each other “through Paul’s struggle with Post Traumatic Stress on the tennis court.” He also mentioned how a man named Jakub Tynka “fought through excruciating leg pain for the final 20 minutes of his cycling event and let the cheering crowd and his fellow competitors Benjamin and Cedric push him over the finish line.” Finally, Harry mentioned the stories of Hannah Stolberg, who raced using a bike that belonged to a late fellow serviceman, and Cavell Simmonds, a 67-year-old former military nurse, who “decided age was just a number,” competing in a total of five events at her first Invictus Games this year.
Harry met Paul Guest at the wheelchair basketball final earlier today
In total, 500 competitors from 18 nations, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Romania, and the Ukraine competed in this years Invictus Games. Events, which included twelve adaptive sports such as archery, cycling, power lifting, and wheelchair basketball.
Harry introduced Aloe Blacc at the end of his speech before the singer performed a medley of his hits.
The Closing Ceremony featured performances by ARIA award-winning band Birds of Tokyo, Grammy-nominated singer Aloe Blacc, Colin Hay, Starley and the Royal Wedding gospel choir The Kingdom Choir who also performed at Harry and Meghan’s wedding.
Meghan and Harry enjoyed the performances
Tonights closing ceremony were attended by 12,000 people and took place at the Qudos Bank Arena.
An overview from the arena:
The arena was known as the Sydney Super Dome from opening in 1999 until 11 May 2006 when it was renamed Acer Arena (after Acer Inc.) as part of a naming rights deal. Since 11 April 2016 the venue has been known as Qudos Bank Arena (after Qudos Bank). The Arena is designed at an average capacity of 18,200 seated, with a maximum possible capacity of 21,032.
The it was Meghan’s turn to take the stage as the crowd erupted in cheers.
“It’s such an honor to be here tonight with all of you and supporting my husband at the Invictus Games, which he founded four years ago. In a short span of time, the games have evolved into an international platform of some of the best athletics and sportsmanship you could ever witness, coupled with a camaraderie and close-knit community, which can only be defined as the Invictus spirit.”
Meghan continued by revealing that she has a special connection to the wounded and recovering service members and veterans who participate in the games.
“I’m not sure if many of you know this, but a few years ago, before I had met my husband, I had the incredible honor of visiting troops deployed all over the world, from the U.K. to Italy and Afghanistan, and several other countries. In traveling to these military bases, I was given a very special glimpse into the lives of those who serve our countries. I was able to see the unshakable bonds between service men and women on the ground together, but at the same time to feel the palpable longing for family and friends while deployed.
The Novak family from Chicago is a prime example of this very thing. When their son Ryan suffered a severe injury leaving him paralysed from the waist down, doctors said he would never be able to walk again. But after speaking to his mom, Karri, it was clear that it was through Ryan’s strength of spirit, and with the unwavering support of his parents, that he was able to prove all of those doctors wrong.
Not only has Ryan competed in sailing, swimming, and athletics this week, but when Harry and I saw him at the finish line of the sailing competition, he literally jumped into our boat (with dexterity and ease, by the way) to give both of us a hug. Seeing Ryan’s mom on the water that day, waving a flag to cheer him on was a moment I will never forget.
The support system on the ground here at Invictus is something unlike any other. Because it’s not just cheering on your own, but realising that by the end of this week, ‘your own’ becomes everyone in the Invictus family.’
It was, after all, only within 24 hours of meeting other families at the Games, that another competitors’ little girl was calling Karri, ‘Auntie Karri.’ This is what the Invictus family is all about.”
Meghan concluded her speech cheers and applause saying: “On that note, I would like to invite everyone to please join me in a huge round of applause to thank all the friends and family who have helped make these Games possible.”
You can watch both speeches below
Meghan was followed by a performance from The Kingdom Choir, the gospel choir that sang at Harry and Meghan’s wedding
You can watch their performance below
For tonight’s closing ceremony Meghan wore an olive green custom tuxedo dress from Italian designer Antonio Berardi.
She styled it with her Aquazzura Casablanca peach suede pumps
She was seen carrying the Cuyana Mini Chain Saddle bag upon arrival
She accessorized with a pair of Natalie Marie Dotted Mana Studs.
And her Pippa Small Oshna and Omeen bangles.
That’s a wrap for today!
For tomorrow we’ll see Harry and Meghan for several engagements:
- Harry and Meghan will fly via New Zealand AirForce with some New Zealand competitors from the Invictus Games.
- They’ll attend a traditional welcome ceremony at Government House (the residence of Governor-General, Patsy Redddy) where they’ll be invited to hongi with the Governor-General’s Māori elders, Kuia and Kaumātua. The ceremony will include a haka performed by members of the New Zealand Defense Force and a 21-gun salute. School children will also attend the festivities.
See you tomorrow!