The Duke of Sussex celebrated an important milestone with the Invictus Games earlier this week: its fifth anniversary.
At a reception marking the occasion, Harry spoke of the Foundation’s history and how it has grown from the first Invictus Games in 2014 to a worldwide sporting event that has taken place on three continents. Wednesday night’s reception was held exactly five years from the day of the 2014 Invictus Games’ opening ceremony.
“I think when we first started out on this adventure, no one really knew…we genuinely had no idea the impact this was going to have,” Harry said.
“We always knew that it was going to be great for the competitors and their families but that ripple effect that literally swept across the globe was quite astonishing.”
The first Invictus Games were held in London in 2014 and were followed by Orlando in 2016, Toronto in 2017, and Sydney in 2018.
At the first Invictus Games, Harry said that the competitors were a source of inspiration to “members of the public, people who had broken backs, broken legs, any issues that they had, any severe ailments, where they were basically stuck on a sofa for weeks if not months” as those people were “writing in saying, ‘I’ve just seen someone who should be dead run the 100m. my life has completely changed. I will now get up and do whatever I can to be the best person that I can be.’”
In an Instagram video posted to the Sussex Royal account, Harry recounts his favourite memory from the Games and says it was in 2014 when Team UK and Team USA competed against each other in wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby and how the teams kept scoring points back and forth.
“This has always been about the competitors and their families,” Harry said. “What they represent, the strength and determination, the grit, every part of it.”
Harry had the idea for the Invictus Games following a visit to Colorado Springs in 2013 where he watched and participated in the Warrior Games and thought of adapting it for veterans.
While at the reception, Harry also had a chance to hear former competitors speak about how the Invictus Games has helped them and met with other past competitors and organisers.
“In the last five years, these guys have completely changed how we view disability, how we view mental health. This is all them. We merely created a platform in order for them to shine and it’s genuinely been one of the greatest honours of my life to get to know all you guys and to see you through this process.
“I can’t ever thank you enough for the impact that you have had across the world, to be able to create a better understanding for those people who put the uniform on.”
The next Invictus Games will be held in The Hague, the Netherlands, in May 2020.