How fun was it to see Harry and Meghan today! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived in the Netherlands for the Invictus Games. It’s the fifth installment of the Paralympic-style sporting event for wounded servicemen and women, which Prince Harry founded in 2014. It has become the defining effort of his post-military endeavors; I really enjoyed putting together a primer on the games, which you will find below.
En route from Montecito to The Hague, Meghan and Harry stopped for a night in Windsor to visit the Queen. I was so heartened when I saw the headlines! I suspected they might work in a quick hello, given that this was Meghan’s first publicized trip back to Europe since the couple stepped down as senior working royals in March 2020. The couple is also understood to have seen Prince Charles.
The visit prompted the speculation about what this means for Harry’s security concerns or the likelihood that we will see them in June for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. But I’m hesitant to jump to any conclusions. My assumption is that this unannounced visit — news only broke after they left for the Netherlands — had a lower security risk than a publicized trip.
As for what’s to come this week: Harry and Meghan are slated to step out Saturday for an Invictus Games event during the day as well as the opening ceremony that evening. The games run through next Friday, April 22. No word yet on their schedule for the rest of the week, but hoping we see a lot of them!
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The Invictus Games is a Paralympics-style sporting event for servicemen and women who have been wounded, injured, or are sick as a result of combat. “The word ‘invictus’ means ‘unconquered,’” according to the Invictus Games Foundation. “The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.”
Founded by Prince Harry, the Invictus Games have been held four times in the last eight years: London in 2014, Orlando in 2016, Toronto in 2017, and Sydney in 2018. At the Sydney games, there were 491 competitors from 18 countries.
This Saturday kicks off the fifth Invictus Games in The Hague, Netherlands. Originally slated for 2020, these games have been rescheduled twice due to the pandemic. Plans for the sixth installment of the Invictus Games are already in the works, slated to be held in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2023.
Prince Harry served in the army for ten years and was known during that time as Captain Harry Wales. He undertook two operational tours of Afghanistan, according to the royal family website, first from 2007 to 2008 as a Forward Air Controller and then from September 2012 to January 2013 as an Apache Pilot.
“My experience in the military made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with — wherever in the world we were,” Harry said last September at the 2021 Salute to Freedom gala in New York.
During his visit, Harry started laying the groundwork for what would become the Invictus Games. “I only hope in the future, the near future, we can bring the Warrior Games to Britain and continue to enlarge this fantastic cause,” he said on the first day. Later, he underscored the sentiment: “You’ve got the Olympics, you’ve got the Paralympics. There’s no reason why the Warrior Games shouldn’t be recognized worldwide.” You can see the plans taking shape!
By the following January, the Evening Standard broke the news that Harry was stepping down from his role as an Army Air Corp helicopter pilot to “spearhead an ambitious bid to bring the injured servicemen's ‘Olympics’ to London.” The first Invictus Games were held that September in London — an impressively quick timetable.
“For some of those taking part this will be a stepping stone to elite sport. But for others, it will mark the end of a chapter in their recovery and the beginning of a new one,” Prince Harry said in his opening remarks, according to the BBC. “Either way, you can be sure that everyone who takes part on the track, pool or field of play will be giving it their all. And I have no doubt that lives will be changed this weekend.”
Yes! First Lady Michelle Obama has been a supporter of Harry’s throughout the formation of the Invictus Games. She introduced him via video at the Invictus Games in 2014 and took part in the opening ceremony again two years later, when the second Invictus Games were held in Orlando, Fla.
“It is truly an honor to be here tonight to help kick off this year’s Invictus Games,” she said, according to the Guardian. “I want to, of course, start by thanking Prince Harry for his outstanding leadership and for bringing the Invictus Games here to Orlando. He is truly our Prince Charming. He should be proud of his work.” (So sweet!)
But perhaps the most iconic Invictus collab between the Obamas and the royals was a video promo for that year’s games. It featured both Michelle and Barack Obama, along with Prince Harry and — yep, you guessed it! — Her Majesty the Queen. Vanity Fair called it a “video destined to go viral,” and it did.
The video opens with Harry seated on a couch with his cardigan-clad grandmother; he picks up his phone to share a message from the Obamas.
“Hey, Prince Harry, remember when you told us to bring it at the Invictus Games?” Michelle asks, arms crossed. “Careful what you wish for,” Barack adds.
“Oh, really,” the Queen says to Harry, an amused smile on her face. “Please.”
Harry then turns the camera and says “Boom,” as he air drops his own mic.
YES. Meghan Markle made her royal debut during the 2017 games in Toronto. And how fitting an occasion it was! Held in the city she called home at the time, and at an event that means so much to Harry. We love to see it.
At the opening ceremony, the couple sat 18 seats away from one another — yes, the press counted. Two days later, Harry and Meghan made it official official, attending a wheelchair tennis event. The chemistry between the two was palpable! Holding hands, with the biggest smiles, clearly so smitten with one another. I know you know what Meghan wore: Mother Denim ripped jeans, Sarah Flint flats, an Everlane bag and — in the most clever wink — the “Husband” shirt by Misha Nonoo. Cue the style scribes!
According to Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand in Finding Freedom, Harry had already proposed, although their engagement wasn’t announced for a few more months. Meghan also attended the closing ceremony that year with her mother, Doria Ragland.
Held from April 16 to 22, there will be ten sports — athletics, weightlifting, hand archery, indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, cycling, sitting volleyball and swimming, as well as the Land Rover Driving Challenge — taking place at four locations in and around Zuiderpark in The Hague.
President Joe Biden announced last week that Pete Buttigieg, former presidential candidate and current secretary of transportation, will lead the US delegation; the 40-year-old politician served in Afghanistan in 2014. He will be joined by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, who lost both her legs and partial use of one arm during a 2004 deployment to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. She then served as former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Duchess kicked it off today in high style! She wore an oversized white double-breasted suit by Valentino with a coordinating white bag by the same brand. Was it a nod to the oversized “Husband” shirt? I wonder! One thing that I’m quite certain was meant to send a message: she re-wore the white Aquazzura heels she wore to her wedding reception. Love to see that reminder of their love!
As for what fashion is to come, I predict more black and white, if only because of Meghan’s outfits at the 2018 Sydney Games. The Sussexes made several Invictus Games appearances during their extensive tour, including a few adorable merch-twinning moments. First up was the signature Invictus-logo’d black shirts, which Meghan paired with a white Altuzarra blazer, black skinny pants, and tortoise shell glasses. Later, the couple wore matching Invictus jackets to brave the choppy seas for the sailing finals. Meghan’s Veja sneakers sent me on a shopping spree!
As for non-merch, I think we can expect to see everything from cocktail to business casual. For the opening ceremony that year, Meghan (who was pregnant with Archie at the time) re-wore a navy cape cocktail dress by Stella McCartney. She attended an Invictus Games reception, hosted by the Prime Minister of Australia for the athletes and their families, wearing a black turtleneck, skinny black pants, and a white pinstripe double-breasted blazer by L’Agence. (Today felt like a slideshow moment to that blazer!)
The black skinny trouser trend continued for watching a wheelchair basketball game, this time paired with a maroon wrap top by Scanlan Theodore. And for her speech at the closing ceremony, Meghan wore an olive green sleeveless tuxedo dress by Antonio Berardi. Also getting slideshow vibes from today! (You can read her remarks at People Magazine, including her reflections on being part of a USO tour to Afghanistan in December 2014 before she met Harry.)
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But mostly: Very much looking forward to seeing Harry and Meghan this week! I love that Harry has created this special event; the world needs a feel-good moment right now, don’t you think? (The Associated Press has a story about the Ukrainian delegation.)
How are you feeling about the Sussexes at the Invictus Games? Hit “Join the discussion” at the bottom of this email to share in the comments of this newsletter.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend, my friends.
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A quick programming note: My family is wrapping up Spring Break and my dad is coming to visit for Easter this weekend, so my Invictus Games coverage on Instagram may be a tad delayed! Thanks for your patience.