The Invictus Games The Hague 2020 has officially opened with a spectacular opening ceremony at Invictus Games Stadium, following the first medal event of the Games.
CAPTION: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex meet with Australian Invictus Games 2020 competitor and Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Vanessa Broughill (centre right) and her family during the Land Rover driving challenge at Invictus Games Park in The Hague, Netherlands. Story by Lucy Redford-Hunt. Photo by Sergeant Oliver Carter.
During the ceremony, competitors, staff, family and friends were welcomed to The Hague to celebrate the official start of the week-long competition of adaptive sports.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex both addressed the crowd, which included Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, His Highness Prince Pieter-Christiaan and Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.
“The world needs to be reminded of the power of the human spirit, the ability to heal, and the strength of resilience that allows us to recover and come back stronger,” Prince Harry said.
“We’re doing it here at this moment in The Hague, on the shores of global justice and peace, and it could not be more fitting for the message that we have for the world.”
Prince Harry paid tribute to Team Ukraine for their resilience in attending the games.
“Your bravery in choosing to come and for being here tonight cannot be overstated. You told me yesterday that when you decided to join us despite all odds, you said that you came to be on this global stage not simply to show your strength but to tell the truth of what is happening in your country.
“You know we stand with you. The world is united with you and still you deserve more. And my hope is that these events, this event, creates the opportunity of how we as a global community can better show up for you.”
Team Ukraine was the first of the participating nations in the flag parade.
The Australian flag was carried by Peter Walter Brown.
Prince Harry presented the first medals of the games to Team France, who triumphed in the Land Rover driving challenge earlier in the day.
Romania and Georgia claimed the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Vanessa Broughill and former Australian Army soldier Matt Model represented Team Australia in the event, with Model behind the wheel and Broughill overseeing the navigation.
“It was fantastic to get behind the wheel of this great Land Rover Defender – it’s an amazing vehicle that practically drove itself once I got Vanessa’s navigation in my ear,” Matt said.
“There were some really tough obstacles to weave in and out of but, with Vanessa’s navigation skills, we got through them pretty well and there’s no damage to the vehicle which is a plus.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made an appearance at the event before the opening ceremony.
Vanessa’s sons, Zac (10) and Hamish (7), were driving the children’s track when the Duke and Duchess hitched a ride around the course, stopping to chat with the boys afterwards.
“I think that they’ll look back on this in years to come and understand just how amazing this experience was,” Leading Seaman Broughill said.
“I don’t think they quite grasp how awesome it was, but, hopefully, they can tell from everyone around them that it’s a pretty unique experience and they’re very lucky.
“The first thing I said to him was thanks. Thanks for having us all here and thanks for the Invictus Games,” Zac said.
“I was just so appreciative.
“I thought that if I ever got the chance to meet him, I wanted to express that.”