Yesterday, The Duke of Sussex introduced the world to the athletes representing the UK at the 2020 Invictus Games. The Duke met competitors and their families for an informal event at the Honourable Artillery Company in London.
The team consists of 65 members, including 15 women, and includes wounded, injured, and sick soldiers (WIS). 30% of the team are still serving in the military, while 89% are participating in the games for the first time. Team UK will compete in nine sports, including archery, wheelchair basketball, swimming, and indoor rowing.
The Games will be held in May at the Hague in the Netherlands.
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We are proud to present your 2020 Invictus Games UK team! Today, The Duke of Sussex, founder of the @WeAreInvictusGames, attended the UK team announcement for next year’s games in The Hague. Prince Harry created the #InvictusGames to celebrate the power of sport rehabilitation (both physically and mentally) and to generate a wider appreciation for those who serve their country. Participating in the games plays a significant part in the recovery journey of wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. It doesn’t just heal the individual, it heals the whole family. Over the last few years, the stories of determination and perseverance that come out of each Invictus Game are nothing short of inspiring. Congratulations to everyone selected to represent their country at next year’s Invictus Games – we’ll see you in The Hague in 2020! #IG2020 Photo © PA
Prince Harry delivered no formal remarks and appeared relaxed, engaged, and in his element whilst interacting with the team. Accompanied by General Patrick Sanders, the Colonel Commandant, the Duke received a cheer from the assembled athletes upon his arrival.
He can be seen tapping his watch – London’s notorious traffic made him a few minutes late for the engagement. “What time do you call this?!” he asked as the crowd erupted with laughter.
After the photo call, the Duke spent the rest of the event chatting to participants and their families. Each person was greeted with a firm handshake, a look in the eye, and, more often than not, a quick joke or a pulled face to put everyone at ease. He also can be heard asking how participants are holding up. “Good days and bad days?” he asked one athlete.
He pulled a face when he asked other which part of the forces they came from: “Air Force” said one and he grimaced jokingly.
The Duke of Sussex has officially launched the team of injured and wounded military veterans and service personnel who will compete in the next Invictus Games.#PrinceHarry #InvictusGames #TeamUK @WeAreInvictus @InvictusGamesNL pic.twitter.com/W2zIkNzGqc
— The Royal Family Channel (@RoyalFamilyITNP) October 29, 2019
For Lynsey Kelly, formerly with the RAF, the 2020 games will be her second competition. She competed in Tampa in June of this year, after struggling with her mental and physical health for seven years. She reached out for help and was connected with the military charity and Invictus partner organisation Help for Heroes, which connected her with pain management resources.
“That gave me a good understanding of my pain, from a physiological and psychological perspective, and it was absolutely bloody brilliant that I did it, because it really made me understand that although I’m in pain, I can still function and still do these things, and I’m not hurting myself any further,” she said.
Much lighter moments dominated the event, however, such as when Ms. Kelly’s hand grazed the Duke’s backside.
'My hands just stuck on Prince Harry's bottom'
Athlete Lynsey Kelly may have got more than she bargained for when she posed with Prince Harry at the launch of next year's Invictus Games
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 29, 2019
After the incident Ms. Kelly said, “We were just posing for a picture. My hands were around his waist. They might have been a bit lower down on his back than I would have preferred, you know, with him being a Prince. He was very fine about it.”
The Duke of Sussex founded the Games in 2014 to harness the power of sport as therapy. He is a passionate supporter of injured servicemen and women and the mental and physical challenges they face. They, in turn, are clearly comfortable in his presence and appreciative of his support – bunny ears aside.