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A speech by The Duke of Sussex at the Invictus Games Foundation 5th anniversary event

Published 11 September 2019

I think for me this has always been about the competitors and their families. What they represent, the strength and determination, the grit, every part of it.

The Duke of Sussex

It’s great to see so many familiar faces and some new faces, but why are we here? It’s the 5thanniversary of Invictus. 

Wow, what a huge amount has happened in five years. Medals have been won, children have been born – not mine necessarily, but JJ’s.

The one thing that hasn’t happened is limbs haven’t grown back. But one thing I can assure you is that mental health has completely changed with every single one of these individuals.

I think when we first started out on this adventure, no-one really knew – even though Dominic touched on it in there the video -  we genuinely had no idea the impact this was going to have.

We always knew that it was going to be great for the competitors and their families but that ripple effect that literally swept across the globe was quite astonishing.

I remember back in 2014, the thousands of emails that we were getting from members of the public, people who had broken backs, broken legs, any issues that they had, any severe ailments, where they were basically stuck on a sofa for weeks if not months. They were writing in saying: “I’ve just seen someone who should be dead run the 100m. My life has completely changed. I will now get up and do whatever I can to be the best person that I can be.”

So I think for me this has always been about the competitors and their families. What they represent, the strength and determination, the grit, every part of it. I saw it on the battlefield as I am sure a lot of you did as well, and certainly back in the day, when Ross Kemp was doing all of those documentaries, it was the first time the British public had a chance to see what these individuals were actually doing. Doesn’t matter whether you supported the conflict or not, but actually what they were doing on a day to day basis, putting themselves in harm’s way, to fight terrorism abroad rather than at home, and then to be coming back in pieces, was quite a lot for people to take on and to understand. 

But I think, in the last five years, these guys have completely changed how we view disability, how we view mental health. This is all them. We merely created a platform in order for them to shine and it’s genuinely been one of the greatest honours of my life to get to know all you guys and to see you through this process. We’ve had some laughs, we’ve had some tears, and I can’t ever thank you enough for the impact that you have had across the world, to be able to create better understanding for those people who put the uniform on. 

And to see you guys serve again and enjoy it so much, because it is literally in your DNA, means that every single person in this room, the 65 million plus viewers on the BBC and people from all over the world have had a chance to be invigorated in a way that they never thought was possible. 

So, in summary, those five years have literally not only changed lives, but you’ve actuallysaved lives, potentially your own but all those people who have seen you operate on the sports field.

So thank you and well done.