Monday, 9 May 2016

Prince Harry opens the Invictus Games

They were his idea and everyone can see they are his passion. As Prince Harry opened the Invictus Games, being held in Orlando, Florida, his love for this sporting event which he has turned into an international concern in just a few years was clear to see. As he said in his opening words to the crowd, Harry had come home.

Alongside the First Lady of the United State of America, Michelle Obama, the 43rd US President, George W Bush and his wife, Laura, and Hollywood legend, Morgan Freeman, Harry watched the spectacle and sparkle of the opening ceremony and looked forward to a big few days ahead.

The prince took to the stage during the ceremony to make a speech which was filled with the pride he so clearly fills for the Games. Harry told the audience that ''over the next four days you will see things that in years past just wouldn't have been possible. You will see people who by rights should have died on the battlefield - but instead they are going for gold on the track or in the pool. You will be inspired, you will be moved and I promise you will be entertained.''

The ceremony itself was filled with entertainment including performances from Laura Wright with her Invictus anthem, former army captain, James Blunt, and the Invictus choir put together by Gareth Malone.

Harry got a huge hug from Michelle Obama as they got ready to celebrate the start of this sporting event they are both so heavily involved in.

During her speech, Michelle Obama said ''I want to honour all of you - extraordinary service members, veterans and military families''.

Harry also had words for those taking part, telling them that ''you are role models that any parent would be proud to have their children follow''.

Prince Harry was also keen to talk about the psychological and emotional impact that conflict can have and before the opening ceremony he took part in a debate on mental health during a symposium on the issue organised by the George W Bush Institute.

Harry and George Bush told the audience that post traumatic stress disorder was wrongly named, saying it's not a disorder but an injury. The debate was intended to focus attention on one of the big aims of this year's Invictus Games - to get people to understand mental health problems which organisers now call invisible wounds.

Those issues featured again in Harry's speech as the opening ceremony got under way as the prince said ''to those suffering from mental illness in silence I hope you see the bravery of our Invictus champions and are inspired to ask for help.''

And then it was time for the party to really get under way as there were huge cheers for all the competitors as they made their way into the stadium and a set of spectacular fireworks to end the ceremony.

Invictus 2016 is under way and Prince Harry is just as proud of his games as he was first time around.

Photo credit: The Soldier's Charity

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