Full speech of The Duke of Sussex at the Opening Ceremony of the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023

Sept 09, 2023
5 Min read
Invictus Games

The full speech from The Duke of Sussex at the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023 Opening Ceremony.

"Well that year went fast!

We went from stroopwaffles to schnitzels in a blink of an eye!

Remember that feeling of pride and honour when you first wore your nations flag on your uniform? Most of us perhaps remember more its final outing, or the time we hung it up for good.

Am I right in saying for some it represented a cape, perhaps a shield or an escape? For others an opportunity, a recognition, or a calling? No matter what it meant to you then, or your reasons for signing up, it was always about being of service to others and your mates.

You discovered things about yourself you never knew. Skills and abilities you didn't know you had. You unlocked your potential and performance. And you understood the power of working as a team.

Ultimately, you were part of a purpose larger than yourself, and that feeling felt good!

I’m guessing a lot of you in this stadium tonight have felt the absence of that feeling for months, maybe years.

Well, not anymore.

Look at your uniform now. Go on, look at it.

It may no longer be camouflage and instead an assortment of bright colors, but that flag is once again on your shoulder or chest.

You, and your families, are once again part of a team, surrounded by people who know what it means to serve, who have a good idea of what it’s taken to get here, who see and know you, and who respect you through a shared experience.

This year’s Games is a Home for Respect.

Think about that word for a second. Respect. What does it mean to you? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Some people may act as if respect is something veterans are asking for; that people with injuries- whether visible or invisible - have to demonstrate they are worthy of it.

Some of you here may sometimes feel that way about yourselves; that you have something to prove.

But I’ve been thinking about something one of the competitors featured in Heart of Invictus shared. Mr Na, from South Korea said: “I don’t think we overcome disabilities, we overcome perceptions of ourselves in society.”

These games are not solely about medals, PBs or finishing lines – they are about overcoming any and all perceptions that have held you back, especially those you’ve placed on yourselves.

Because all of this, all of us - are here because of you.

This isn’t a gift. This isn’t a handout. This is yours. Take it.

One of my favorite parts of being at the Games is getting to reconnect with familiar faces and meet new ones.

I want to take a moment to recognize Team Ukraine and one very special person in particular, Taira. I don’t think I have ever met someone as courageous and resilient as Taira.

Where are you Taira?

I think I can speak for everyone when I say that you embody the true spirit of Ukraine and of Invictus.

It’s so good to see you and feel your energy in person. We really missed you last year!

We’re also so excited to have new nations join us.

Let’s hear it for Colombia, Israel and Nigeria!

I’m not saying we play favorites in our home, but since my wife discovered she is of Nigerian descent, it’s likely to get a little more competitive this year!

And to every fierce competitor in this arena, I have one last ask of you - that you grasp every opportunity
and revel in it.

Because in your joy, in your happiness, in your achievement, we all benefit. It is a gift that as people, we can find joy in the pursuit of our aspirations, and also provide it unknowingly to others along the way.

You may well be the person someone is looking to for inspiration, because you haven’t let fear control you.

Whether competitor or spectator, you will all take so much away from these Games. There are endless opportunities to have your lives touched and hearts opened. The energy alone is palpable and contagious.

Lean into it and keep it close. Let it inspire the limitless in you.

Remember you are not only watching or participating in sport but experiencing the magic of the human spirit - learning first hand from those who live not bound by their journey but instead freed by it.

So, to our Invictus community - You have my respect.

Respect for your qualities as humans. Respect for maintaining our values and principles. Respect for your abilities and your achievements.

Are you ready? I said, are you ready?

Let’s do this!!!

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