Prince Harry has revealed he’s feeling equal measures of nerves and excitement ahead of the fifth Invictus Games tournament in Düsseldorf, Germany next month in a video marking the countdown to the opening ceremony on September 9.
Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014 as an opportunity to bring together and highlight the mental and physical strength of injured, sick and wounded ex-servicemen and women in a series of sporting events.
Inspired by the similarly themed Warrior Games in the U.S. during a 2013 visit while still a serving member of the British armed forces, Harry launched the Invictus Games in London a year later, with subsequent Games taking place in Orlando (2016), Toronto (2017), Sydney (2018) and the Netherlands (2022).
In a video addressing the global participants preparing to travel to Germany for the 2023 games, Harry spoke about the emotions of anticipation, nervousness and excitement they must be feeling.
“We are exactly one month away from creating a ‘Home for Respect’ in Düsseldorf 2023 for the next Invictus Games,” he said in the clip, which has been shared by fans on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“I hope you’re excited!” he said. “I’m probably a bit nervous—I’m both. But I can’t wait to see all of you and have the whole community together once again, it’s been too long.
“For some of you this may be your first Games, for some of you this may be your second Games, and for some of you it may be your third Games, but either way there will be an element of excitement as well as nervousness. And I’m sure some of you have been waiting for this moment for a very long time.”
The prince then referenced the journey of “healing” that many of the veterans who take part in the Games are on, both mental and physical.
“You’re all on different parts of your healing journey,” he said. “We all are, we always will be, but I can assure you that this experience you are going to have will hopefully be life-changing and you’ll come out of it a better person for sure.”
The prince made healing a core part of his discussion in a recent appearance at a sports summit in Tokyo, which he attended in his capacity as a co-founder of the Sentebale, a youth-focused HIV and AIDS charity working in Africa.
Speaking at the ISPS (International Sports Promotion Society) Sports Values Summit—Special Edition, Harry said: “I have long believed that sport is a conduit for healing—not just for the mind and body but the world.
“Sport requires having a dream and the need for community. Whether banded together in victory or showing up with respect in loss, no one ever crosses a finish line or scores a goal without the help and belief of others.”
The Invictus Games have grown over the past nine years and 21 nations will be participating in September, including for the first time, Nigeria, Israel and Colombia.
“I can’t wait to have every continent represented,” Harry said in the recently released video message. “Except Antarctica…still working on that.”
Wrapping up his thoughts, the royal offered his thanks for “your commitment, your determination in getting to this point.”
“We’re going to have fun. We’re going to have a lot of fun and I can’t wait to have all of you together and yeah, look forward to it,” he said. “These last few weeks, these last few days will be exciting and nervous but we’re ready to host you and it’s going to be the best games ever, the best games yet.”
Some of Harry’s nerves could be attributed to the pivotal moment in his post-royal career that he and wife Meghan Markle are currently entering, following a period of heavy criticism and media scrutiny.
The fallout from the royals’ Netflix show and the prince’s memoir saw their popularity plummet on either side of the Atlantic, though slow progress in regaining ground is now being made in the polls. The couple also faced setbacks in their media careers, splitting from podcast partners, Spotify, and failing to secure an Emmy nomination for their docuseries.
The last high-profile event attended by both Harry and Meghan was the Women of Vision awards in New York back in May. After the ceremony, at which Meghan was being honored, the couple and Meghan’s mother Doria were pursued through Manhattan by paparazzi in what a Sussex spokesperson called a “near catastrophic car chase.”
Over the following days, sources appeared to downplay the dramatic account that bore damning comparisons to the fate of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, who died in a 1997 high speed car crash in Paris. This saw some commentators and social media users criticize the couple.
The Invictus Games is one of Harry’s most important working outputs, for which he has received widespread praise both before and after he left the working royal family in 2020.
Since 2017, Meghan has also attended the games for a number of the events. In 2018 and 2022, the duchess gave an introductory speech for her husband. Her attendance at the 2023 games has not yet been confirmed.
The Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023 run from September 9 to 16. Team U.S.A will be represented by 60 serving and retired military personnel.
James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith and read his stories on Newsweek‘s .
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