HRH The Duchess of Sussex leads the applause for friends and family at Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Closing Ceremony

Sunday 27th October 2018

Good evening everyone.

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.

And I’m not sure if many of you know this, but a few years ago, before I had met my husband, I had the incredible honour of visiting troops deployed all over the world; from the UK to Italy and Afghanistan, and several other countries. In travelling to these military bases, I was given a very special glimpse into the lives of those who serve our countries.

I was able to see the unshakable bonds between service men and women on the ground together, but at the same time to feel the palpable longing for family and friends while deployed.

Once home, the need for that anchor of support from loved ones, especially given how much it accelerates recovery and rehabilitation, is immeasurable.

I’ve been reminded of those memories here. During this year’s Games in Sydney I’ve witnessed the most amazing support networks that surround competitors, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting several of these family and friends.

The Novak family from Chicago is a prime example of this very thing. When their son Ryan suffered a severe injury leaving him paralysed from the waist down, doctors said he would never be able to walk again. But after speaking to his mom, Karri, it was clear that it was through Ryan’s strength of spirit, and with the unwavering support of his parents, that he was able to prove all of those doctors wrong.

Not only has Ryan competed in sailing, swimming and athletics this week, but when Harry and I saw him at the finish line of the sailing competition, he literally jumped into our boat (with dexterity and ease, by the way) to give both of us a hug.

Seeing Ryan’s mom on the water that day, waving a flag to cheer him on was a moment I will never forget.

The support system on the ground here at Invictus is something unlike any other. Because it’s not just cheering on your own, but realising that by the end of this week, ‘your own’ becomes everyone in the Invictus family.

It was, after all, only within 24 hours of meeting other families at the Games, that another competitors’ little girl was calling Karri, ‘Auntie Karri.’ This is what the Invictus family is all about.

On that note, I would like to invite everyone to please join me in a huge round of applause to thank all the friends and family who have helped make these Games possible.

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