There is always a lot of excitement when Royalty visit Australia. The present visit of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Duke and Duchess of Sussex) is no different. People gather in numbers wherever they go.
The couple is extremely friendly whenever they meet the average Australian. They spend time with them – they speak to the elders, fondle the babies, squat to talk to kids, chat with youngsters, accept their bouquets of flowers with broad smiles. It has been a field day for the media and the couple continue to hit the headlines. There is wide coverage right through the visit.
The main purpose of the visit was to open the Invictus Games 2018 held in Sydney. The Games is the brainchild of Prince Harry, who created an international adaptive multi-sport event where the wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and indoor rowing.
The Invictus Games Foundation states: “The word ‘invictus’ (Latin) means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and personifies what these tenacious men and women can achieve post injury. The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.
“The Invictus Games is about much more than just sport – it captures hearts, challenges minds and changes lives.”
Inspired by his visit to the Warrior Games in the USA in 2013 when he saw first-hand how the power of sport can help physically, psychologically and socially those suffering from injuries and illness, Prince Harry created the Games. Starting in London in 2014, the Games have been held in Orlando (2016), Toronto (2017) and now Sydney. The Hague in the Netherlands is the venue for the next Games in May 2020.
The opening ceremony in Sydney in the waterfront opposite the Sydney Opera House - the iconic building in the city – was obviously different to the earlier ones. Though it rained heavily, once the rains ceased and the ceremony started, everything went to schedule.
The ceremony began with traditional Aboriginal dancing.
A crowd of 4000 competitors, family members and dignitaries rose up as Price Harry walked up to officially open the Games.
Starting his speech saying “Hello Sydney, hello Australia, and hello Invictus,” he told the competitors: “You are the optimistic generation. You are the new generation of service and you are the role models to us all.”
After thanking the Australians for welcoming him and wife Meghan, he said he had a mission for everyone, jokingly saying “It’s not how many shrimps you can put on the barbie.”
“Our competitors have made it to these games, most of them travelling from many thousands of miles away”, he said. “It’s your job to cheer them on and share their stories. It’s your privilege to watch in the stands or with your friends and families around the television. It’s your responsibility to make sure your children know how amazing these guys and girls really are.”
The crowd gave him a standing ovation and cheered as he left the stage.
Before Prince Harry opened the Games, Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the gathering.
Earlier, accompanied by three athletes, a Games ambassador and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Prince Harry climbed the landmark Sydney Harbour Bridge to raise the Invictus flag on the eve of the Games.