What better way to celebrate your 30th birthday then by being a part of an international sporting event for wounded servicemen and women that was organised by yourself. Well that is exactly the way Prince Harry will be celebrating his upcoming milestone birthday, and he couldn’t be happier.
Prince Harry spoke ahead of Wednesday’s Opening Ceremony while in attendance at his first medal presentation ceremony at a driving challenge at Jaguar Land Rover in Gaydon, Warwickshire. Jaguar Land Rover are the games’s official sponsors.
One of the first questions Harry was asked at the event was not however about the Invictus Games but how he plans to celebrate his upcoming 30th birthday, his answer was simply, “probably by this” (The Invictus Games).
The event at JLR on Tuesday saw Harry present gold, silver and bronze medals to Australia, Germany and Holland respectively after they battled against eight other nations in a driving challenge, although Britain missed out on a medal.
Prince Harry was asked at the event about his upcoming 30th birthday and jokingly admitted, “I’m slowly starting to feel old.” He also added, “Surrounding myself with these guys and girls does keep me young. They’re sharp witted and their sense of humour is on it.”
The inaugural Invictus Games begins on September 10th and runs until September 14th and the event is the brainchild of Prince Harry who was inspired to set up the games after witnessing the Warrior Games in the USA. Since it was announced, Harry has championed the games all the way and has had the backing of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as a host of celebrities.
The challenge at JLR saw teams of two take all-terrain and tarmac driving stages in Land Rover Discoveries and Jaguar F Types, the car of choice that Harry took for a spin also, after which Harry watched the final laps before presenting the medals.
After the event, Harry caught up with reporters and mentioned how “humbled” he was by the whole experience and that everybody else should be too. The Prince added, “The difference it’s going to make for these guys to be a part of these games is huge. The games are nothing to do with supporting war, the British public support the individuals. It’s about supporting these individuals who have signed up to serve their country and wherever it takes them.”
Whilst on his visit to the site in Warwickshire, Prince Harry took a Jaguar F Type for a spin around the course with Private Kimberley Stirling. Harry described the drive as “fantastic” and also said, ” Kimberley well navigated me. She was the dream really because I didn’t have a clue where I was going.”
As well as handing out medals, Prince Harry also signed a giant I AM sculpture as well as meeting competitors of the games. One of these competitors was Martyn Gibbons MBE, who suffered shrapnel wounds during a mortar attack whilst in Afghanistan in 2007. Mr Gibbons battled to regain use of his legs and has since set up an organisation called Military Mountain Bikers. Martyn Gibbons had this to say of the games, “Its a great stage, everyone’s being really competitive. It sets the tone for the games. Harry mustn’t sleep much, he’s been so busy.”
The Chief of Jaguar Land Rover was also full of praise for the upcoming sporting event, “Jaguar Land Rover is immensely proud to be enabling the Invictus Games and hosting this exciting driving challenge. We have been inspired by the passion with which Prince Harry has championed this visionary idea.”
The driving challenge on Tuesday was dubbed the curtain raiser of the games and on Tuesday night further festivities to help celebrate the impending launch of the games were planned, including the Invictus Games logo, I AM, being projected on to the front of Buckingham Palace.
As the event came to a close, Harry had one final joke to make about his imminent 30th birthday, he compared turning 30 to seeing a 30MPH sign as you enter a village, saying it made him think, “I’m actually quite old though I don’t feel too old, I think I am always young at heart.”
Have you never heard the saying Harry, ‘life begins at 40’, you’ve still got another ten years of being young!
Photo Credit: Invictus Games 2014