Games kick-off with cheeky gift
Team Australia is off to a cheeky start to the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, with competitors gifting Invictus Games Foundation Patron The Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, with an Australian staple – a pair of budgie smugglers.
CAPTION: Invictus Games Team Australia competitors Matt Model (left) and Damien Irish (right) gift a pair of Team Australia swimmers to Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex. Story by Lucy Redford-Hunt. Photo by Flight Sergeant Ricky Fuller.
Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, made their first appearance at the Invictus Games at the Nations Home in Zuiderpark this afternoon. The couple greeted participating nations’ competitors, along with their friends and family, at a welcome reception that was hosted by the City of The Hague and the Dutch Ministry of Defence.
During the reception, Team Australia competitors, former Royal Australian Corps of Transport driver Damien Irish and former infantryman Matt Model, presented Prince Harry with a pair of iconic Australian swimming trunks. The personalised swimsuit was emblazoned with ‘I Am Team Aus’ across the back.
The gift continued a tradition, as the Aussie duo had both previously presented Prince Harry with a similar swimsuit at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.
“We were lucky enough to catch up with him and give him some Australian merch, being the budgie smugglers, which we were lucky enough to give him in Sydney as well,” explained Model.
“He made a bit of a remark about how he still has the ones we gifted him in Sydney, so I was pretty pumped and excited.
“I think he was offended that we gave him the extra size up as it’s been a couple of years and he’s got a dad bod now but, as always, he’s a larrikin, so he laughed it off.”
Former parachute rigger Emma Murfet and her husband Joshua also had the chance to catch up with Prince Harry during the reception.
“He was walking past all of us Aussies inside and he stopped to shake our hands,” said Murfet of her run-in with the Invictus Games patron.
“It was very exciting and a nice touch that he took the time to greet the teams and our families.”
In his address to the crowd, the Duke of Sussex paid tribute to the friends and families of the competitors, commending them for their continual support of their loved ones through their rehabilitation journeys.
“When the competitors come together in the arena, on the field or in the pool, they are doing it under the shared banner of service and with the shared goal of achieving what once seemed impossible,” said Prince Harry. “They do all this alongside, and often because of you: the friends and family.”
The first day of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 kicks off on April 16, with the Land Rover Driving Challenge and the opening ceremony.
CAPTION: Prince Harry addresses Invictus Games competitors and their family and friends at the official welcome reception at the Nations Home at Invictus Games Park, Zuiderpark, in The Hague, the Netherlands. Photo by Flight Sergeant Ricky Fuller.