Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited Australia House earlier today, and met with servicemen and women from Britain and Australia ahead of the the 2018 Invictus Games.
The royal couple were met by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his wife, Lucy, for the event, which comes just after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Harry and Meghan got to meet those who had competed at Invictus before, as well as hopefuls for this year’s Sydney games. Over 500 competitors, all of whom were injured mentally or physically in the line of duty of the armed forces, from 18 nations are expected to compete at the Invictus Games in late October.
Gareth Paterson has won three gold Invictus medals in archery at both the the Orlando and Toronto Games, representing Great Britain. The Geordie veteran suffers from an autoimmune disease which fuses the spine, which means he is leaving the Army after over 20 years of service.
Mr Paterson said: “You can’t really fault the guy, he puts in so much effort. He genuinely cares about everyone he meets and remembers who people are.”
“He doesn’t do it for the media like some celebrities, he really cares about people’s stories.”
Jo Hursey, 42, also a British Invictus competitor, has known Prince Harry for a while, having served in the army for 23 years. She said: “I don’t think he realises how many lives he’s changed. He’s changed mine for the better.”
Ms Hursey also revealed she tried to persuade Meghan to try sitting volleyball, saying the former actress seemed keen on the idea.
The soon-to-be married couple also learnt more about preparations for this year’s event, which is the third competition to be held for injured veterans. Meghan let slip she and her future husband will be travelling to Sydney for Invictus at a team trials event earlier this month.
Another familiar face for the Prince was Marjorie Cole, a former cooking instructor in the army. Harry recognised her and stopped for a chat, with the 73-year-old later saying: “He’s very charming and said ‘nice to see you again’. I’m thrilled for him and Meghan.”
Asked if she would be flying out to Sydney, Ms Cole replied: “I’ve got to win the lottery first.”
The Australian Prime Minister gave a speech at the reception, saying that the athletes would get the ‘respect and recognition they so thoroughly deserve’.
He said: “It will be a formidable contest. Five hundred athletes…will all be competing in a country and a city which will applaud them for their service and cheers them on to greater heights.”
Harry and Meghan also received Invictus jackets from the Prime Minister during the event.
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