The Invictus Games have kicked off in The Hague, with 20 nations taking part in the nine athletic competitions and the special Land Rover Driving Challenge.
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, Honorary Chair of the Dutch Invictus Games, was joined by her son, Prince Pieter-Christiaan, at the opening ceremony, which saw both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex make speeches alongside the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
The opening ceremony took place on 16 April in the Sportcampus, with around 500 participants, their families, and country representatives gathered together for the event that had been delayed two years due to the global health crisis.
The Ukrainian Invictus Team received a standing ovation as they entered the arena, and both Prince Harry and Prime Minister Rutte highlight them as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.
Prince Harry told the Ukrainians: “Your bravery in choosing to come and for being here tonight cannot be overstated.”
“You know, we stand with you. The world is united with you. And still, you deserve more. And my hope is that these events, this event, creates the opportunity … of how we as a global community can better show up for you,” he added.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte extended a special welcome to the Ukrainian team, saying: “No doubt you are here with both mixed feelings and grave concerns about what’s happening at home. Some members of your team can’t be here because they are fighting on the frontlines. Like you, we are thinking of them. And we are thinking of those Ukrainians in the Invictus community who have paid the ultimate price while fighting in the war. They deserve our highest respect. Please know that we’re all behind you. That we support Ukraine.”
The Duke of Sussex also spoke about the Invictus spirit and shared his hopes that his and Meghan’s son, Archie, would have the character of the Invictus competitors. He said the competitors “are people of substance, of resilience, of strength, and of heart. You have the heart of Invictus.”
Ahead of the opening ceremony, Princess Margriet and Prince Pieter-Christiaan met with the Dutch Invictus Team to wish them good luck as the competition began.
King Willem-Alexander is due to attend the wheelchair basketball finals and the closing ceremony on 22 April.
The Invictus Games, an international sporting event for injured servicemen and women, were founded by the Duke of Sussex after the Prince was inspired by the Warrior Games in the United States. The first Invictus Games were in London in 2014. They were held in the United States in 2016 and Canada in 2017. In 2018, it was held in Australia.