Duchess of Sussex pays tribute to Invictus family as Sydney Games close

The Duchess of Sussex thanked the Invictus family for welcoming her into the fold as the Sydney event closed.

Meghan, wearing a green Antonio Berardi dress, told the audience at the Qudos Bank Arena, she had witnessed “amazing support networks” between the 500 competitors at the Games.

Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014 for wounded servicemen and women, with events previously being held in London, Toronto and Florida.

The mother-to-be said: “​It is such an honour to be here tonight celebrating all of you, and supporting my husband in the Invictus Games, which he founded four years ago.

“In that short span of time, the Games have evolved into an international platform of some of the best athletics and sportsmanship you could ever witness, coupled with a camaraderie and close-knit sense of community which can only be defined as the Invictus Spirit.

“​With that said, and on a very personal note, I just wanted to thank all of you for welcoming me into the Invictus family. I am truly so grateful to be a part of this with each and every one of you.”

Royal tour of Australia – Day Nine
Royal tour of Australia – Day Nine

The closing ceremony, in Sydney’s Olympic Park, featured performances from Colin Hay and Aloe Blacc, with David Beckham among the stars in the crowd.

One of the more touching moments came after Edwin Vermetten of the Netherlands won the Land Rover Above and Beyond award.

Mr Vermetten comforted Briton Paul Guest during a wheelchair tennis match after Mr Guest’s post traumatic stress disorder was triggered by a helicopter passing overhead.

The Dutchman sang Let It Go from the movie Frozen on court and the pair embraced as he received the award.

The Duke of Sussex closed the Games saying the performances from the 500 competitors had been humbling and inspiring.

He said: “They are men and women who have confronted a challenge and overcome it. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And with the help of their friends and families, they have exceeded every expectation.

“That is something we can all aspire to. You do not have to be a veteran who has fought back from injury to be inspired by the Invictus example.

“You can be a teacher or a doctor, a mum or a dad, a child or a grandparent, a farmer, a plumber, a lawyer, or a CEO. Or anything at all.

“You can identify something in your own life that you want to change for the better. And you can let the men and women of the Invictus Games remind you that no challenge is too difficult to overcome.”

“You have left us all humbled.” — The Duke of Sussex to the @InvictusSydney competitors. #IG2018pic.twitter.com/wrxgHkb1oG

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 27, 2018

He also spoke of the importance of discussing mental health.

He said: “By simply being here and fighting back from some of the darkest experiences known to anyone, you have become role models for everyone at home or in the stands who might be struggling with their emotions or with a mental illness.

“For that friend or comrade you know who is unable to open up about their struggles. For that man or woman who has watched on television, you are proving that it’s OK to talk about how we feel.

“To girls and boys who see you speaking openly about anxiety, stress, and depression, you are showing it’s OK not to be OK. And most importantly, you are showing us all that it’s OK to ask for help.”

The next Games will take place in the Hague in 2020, and the Duke and Duchess will continue their 16-day tour in New Zealand on Sunday.