• Sat. Sep 24th, 2022

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spend Easter with Invictus Games contestants and children

ByMary M. Ward

Apr 17, 2022

The Sussexes had covered every square inch of the Invictus Games pitch on Easter Sunday as athletic competition for wounded, injured and ill service members and veterans saw its first full day of sporting events.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan were seen clapping and showing their support for contestants around the world at several different activities in The Hague, Netherlands. And for young children whose parents are busy taking part in the games, there was also a surprise visit from the Duchess of Sussex.

On April 17, Meghan slipped into the British Embassy tent to join a dozen children and some of their mothers as they listened to a reading of the classic children’s book Hairy Maclary – a classic series she admitted to the group that she read to her own children, Archie and Lilibet.

Together with Harry, the pair kicked off their third day at Zuiderpark in The Hague with athletics events featuring competitors from 17 different countries. Dressed in a Brandon Maxwell jacket, Meghan and Harry immediately gravitated towards some of the contestants in attendance.

“We’ll be cheering you on all the way!” the duchess told members of Team Ukraine, who stopped for selfies and photos with the royal couple. They also took time to chat with athletes from Team Iraq before rushing to pet a Team Netherlands service dog. “Well, I might just fall in love with you!” Meghan cooed as she stroked the golden Labrador, Castor, as Harry chatted with owner and veteran Eric Hartwich, who suffers from severe PTSD after being deployed to the front lines in Bosnia in 2007.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan pet a service dog.

Lucas SchulzeGetty Images

In the shot put final, Harry and Meghan cheered and cheered as they watched Team Ukraine’s Rodion Sitdikov take the 9.46m gold medal. It was a third medal for Ukrainian competitors, with Artem Lukashuk and Ivan Heretsun taking silver and bronze in the long jump.

prince harry invictus games
Prince Harry greets members of Team Ukraine.

Lukas Schulze/Getty Images for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020Getty Images

With three events taking place almost simultaneously on Sunday, the Sussexes wasted no time getting around, heading to the Sports Campus for a sitting volleyball match between Australia and the Netherlands.

Paralympian gold medalist and former Invictus medalist Jaco Van Gass sat down with the Sussexes during the game. The British Army veteran, who suffered life-changing injuries after surviving a rocket attack in 2009, first met Harry in 2011 and has remained a friend ever since. “[Harry’s] back with his people, he’s back in an environment that he’s so natural in and that he cares about,” he said. “I think that’s the most important thing – that great caring he wears to games.”

Although Meghan left in the afternoon, Harry cheered on the competitors at the archery arena. Applauding for each participating country, including the United States, South Korea and Romania, Harry was also joined by the team for his upcoming Netflix gaming production.

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“It’s amazing to see you in action,” the Duke told U.S. Navy veteran Gabriel “Gabe” George of Jacksonville, Florida, who lost an arm in 2008 after returning from deployment. Heart of Invictuswhich will air on Netflix later this year, will tell the stories and share the journeys of contestants like Gabe as they prepare for the games, which have been delayed for two years due to the pandemic.

Tomorrow Prince Harry will continue his stay at the Invictus Games, an event he told guests at Saturday’s Opening Ceremony was “full of people of substance, resilience, strength and heart”.

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He echoed similar sentiments during his first interview in Europe since stepping away from his senior working royal role more than two years ago. Speaking to young journalists Sophia, 11, and Jay, 12, from De Kindercorrespondent in the Netherlands, a new medium focused on youth voices, he shared what makes the games so important to the world.

“These people have signed up to serve, but at the same time, once their uniform is taken off or removed, they are still serving,” Harry said. “Life is about service, service to others, being kind to one another, friendship.”

When asked what his wish was for Archie and Lilibet, he replied: “Growing up in a better world. Growing up in a fairer world, a safer world, a more equal world. It’s not going to be easy, but I will never, ever rest until I, as a parent, have at least tried to make the world a better place for them.”

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