Prince Harry’s actress girlfriend Meghan Markle finally got to enjoy royal privileges as the couple attended their first official engagement together during the opening of the Invictus Games.
The couple were not seated together at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, but Meghan was sat just a few feet away from the Queen’s grandson, who was accompanied by US First Lady Melania Trump.
Although she is not entitled to British tax-payer funded police protection, one of Harry’s Scotland Yard security officers could be seen hidden away in a stairwell close to where Miss Markle was seated.
Because they are not engaged, royal protocol dictates that Harry and Meghan cannot sit next to one another at official events.
Wearing a purple dress and a matching $690 Mackage leather jacket slung over her shoulders, Meghan was escorted by her close friend Markus Anderson who introduced her to Prince Harry last year.
Her low key presence marks the first time she has joined the Royal for an official event and will intensify speculation that an engagement announcement is imminent.
Harry, seated a quarter of a stadium away, occupied a VIP box alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US First Lady Melania Trump and Ukraine’s President Poroshenko.
The distance – 18 seats and four rows – did nothing to dampen the actress’s excitement or pride. She beamed as Harry gave an inspiring and humble speech on stage during which he told the 550 athletes gathered: ‘You are all winners. You are Invictus.’
Meanwhile Harry seemed unable to keep his eyes off his radiant girlfriend and was spotted glancing down towards her seat on a number of occasions.
Prince Harry’s girlfriend Meghan Markle attended the Invictus games opening ceremony on Saturday night in Toronto. She sat next to Markus Anderson, her ‘best friend’ who introduced the pair last year, while Prince Harry was 18 rows away
Instead of his girlfriend, Harry was seated next to First Lady Melania Trump in a VIP box. They sat behind Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (bottom left), his wife Maryna, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau (bottom right, second from right)
Prince Harry is seen above in the far left corner of the image in his seat in the VIP box. His girlfriend was 18 seats to his left and three rows in front of him
Before she took her seat, the First Lady met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his glamorous wife Sophie and his children Ella-Grace and Xavier.
Mrs Trump spoke to Sophie first, saying: ‘It’s good to see you. I saw you a few days ago.’
She then chatted briefly to Trudeau about the couple’s children before telling him that her son Barron had spent the day playing soccer.
Miss Markle, although American born, currently resides in Toronto while filming the US legal drama Suits.
She has been dating the prince since July last year when they were introduced by Her ‘best friend’ Markus, a consultant for the Soho House Group and former global membership director at the exclusive club where he worked his way up from being a waiter to the right-hand man of founder Nick Jones.
Prince Harry, 32, was introduced to his girlfriend at Soho House in London and is believed to have attended a masked Halloween ball at Soho House in Toronto while secretly visiting Meghan at her home last year.
Meghan could be seen clapping enthusiastically when the UK team entered the auditorium, although Harry got to his feet.
Although she is not entitled to British tax-payer funded police protection, one of Harry’s Scotland Yard security officers could be seen hidden away in a stairwell close to where Miss Markle was seated.
Presumably he had been stationed there to whisk her away as soon as the opening show had ended.
Prince Harry, circled left, and Meghan Markle, circled right, were seated apart for the opening ceremony in Toronto
Markle was in high spirits after taking her seat quietly in the stands. She clapped and smiled as the event kicked off, allowing herself just a few slight glances in Harry’s direction
The 36-year-old star drew glances from others in the crowd as she took her seat before the ceremony began
Markle made a quiet entrance, taking her seat in the stands with friends before the ceremony got underway
The actress lives in Toronto and films Suits in the city. Saturday’s outing is her first appearance at an official royal event since confirming her romance with Harry
Dressed in a $690 leather jacket and matching dress, the actress smiled and chatted Anderson as the games got underway
According to those in the stands, Markle was aware of the cameras pointed in her direction. She maintained her poise and at times appeared to glare directly towards the lens
The actress wore some simple gold rings on her right hand and wore just a small, gold bracelet on her left wrist
She seemed enthralled by a light-up bangle which was given to crowd members once they took their seats
Markle kept her plum leather jacket propped on her shoulders, hiding the upper half of her elegant evening dress
A security team including three bodyguards stood watch in a stairwell next to the actress’s seat. One is one of Harry’s Scotland Yard protection officers
The actress appeared to be aware of the cameras, sitting with enormous poise in her seat, often whispering and giggling with Mr Anderson.
But her boyfriend had her undivided attention when he took the stage. She was seen laughing as he cracked a joke with Captain Trevor Greene; a retired soldier who was terribly injured in Afghanistan in 2006.
Meghan smiled broadly and clapped enthusiastically as her boyfriend was shown live on a screen in the auditorium and thanked for creating the inspiring Invictus Games concept.
Following Captain Greene onto the stage, Harry began his speech by recapping the story of his flight home from Afghanistan in 2008 when he was joined on the plane by three injured British soldiers and the body of a Dane killed in action.
He went on to decry the ‘cynical, apathetic’ world, telling the audience at the Air Canada Centre: ‘We can all win when we respect our friends, neighbors and communities.’
Talking about host city Toronto, he said: ‘More sports, more nations, more friends and families, more fans watching than ever before. We have the biggest crowd that Invictus has ever had.’
Watched by Markle, who looked on intently throughout, Harry ended the speech with a call to action, telling the assembled athletes: ‘You are all winners. You are Invictus. Let’s get started.’
As she kicked her heels out to the side of the stand, Meghan’s nude pointed shoes could be visible beneath her plum dress
As she watched the ceremony unfold, Markle fidgeted with her hair and tugged her delicately placed jacket over her shoulders
Markle offered a slight smile in the direction of the three bodyguards who were gathered in a stairwell nearby, waiting to her escort her out of the center
Markle rose to her feet to applaud athletes as others remained seated shortly before making her exit
As Prince Harry spoke on stage, she watched on intently. At other times she smiled and laughed along with other crowd members
Carrying a purple furry clutch in one hand, the actress made a quiet exit less than two hours after arriving. She was escorted out by one of Harry’s Scotland Yard protection officers
Prince Harry shakes hands with Captain Trevor Greene, a retired soldier who was injured in Afghanistan in 2006
‘YOU ARE ALL WINNERS’: PRINCE HARRY’S INVICTUS SPEECH
The Royal gave a rousing speech, telling the athletes gathered: ‘You are all winners. You are Invictus. Let’s get started.’
Hello Toronto, bonsoir le Canada. Merci beaucoup pour votre hospitalité.
Trevor and his family are what Invictus is all about. Invictus is about the dedication of the men and women who served their countries, confronted hardship, and refused to be defined by their injuries.
Invictus is about the families and friends who faced the shock of learning that their loved ones had been injured or fallen ill – and then rallied to support them on their journey of recovery. And above all, Invictus is about the example to the world that all service men and women – injured or not – provide about the importance of service and duty.
The true scale of this example was brought home to me when I left Afghanistan after my first deployment there in 2008.
As I was waiting to board the plane, the coffin of a Danish soldier was loaded on by his friends. Once on the flight, I was confronted with three British soldiers, all in induced comas, with missing limbs, and wrapped in plastic. The way I viewed service and sacrifice changed forever.
And the direction of my life changed with it. I knew that it was my responsibility to use the great platform that I have to help the world understand and be inspired by the spirit of those who wear the uniform.
In a world where so many have reasons to feel cynical and apathetic, I wanted to find a way for veterans to be a beacon of light, and show us all that we have a role to play; that we all win when we respect our friends, neighbours, and communities. That’s why we created Invictus. Not only to help veterans recover from their physical and mental wounds; but also to inspire people to follow their example of resilience, optimism, and service in their own lives. We made a great start in London in 2014.
We took it to the next level in Orlando last year. And over the next week – in this year as we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary – Toronto is going to put on a games that draws the attention of the world.
More competitors, more sports, more nations, more friends, more families and more people watching at home than ever before. With the people in this arena tonight – and those watching across Canada and around the world – we have the biggest crowd Invictus has ever enjoyed.
In the days ahead, I know many of you will be experiencing Invictus for the first time. I hope you’re ready. I hope you’re ready for some fierce competition. I hope you’re ready to see the meaning of teamwork that proves anything is possible when we work together. I hope you’re ready to see courage and determination that will inspire you to power through the challenges in your own life. I hope you’re ready to see role models in action that any parent will want their children to look up to. And I hope you’re ready to see lives change in front of your eyes.
Before I close I want to speak directly to the competitors. For the next week, we entrust you with the Invictus spirit. You have all come such a long way. Some of you have cheated death and come back stronger than before. Some of you have overcome emotional challenges that until very recent years would have seen you written off and ignored. And now you are here. On the world stage. Flags on your chests. Representing your countries again. Supporting your teammates. And looking up into the stands, and into the eyes of your friends and families. You are all winners. Please don’t forget to love every second of it.
Don’t forget about our friends who didn’t come home from the battlefield. Don’t forget those at home who still need our support.
And don’t forget that you are proving to the world that anything is possible. You are Invictus. Let’s get started.
From their vantage point, Harry and Melania had a perfect view of the stage, which was festooned with black and yellow Invictus logos, at the Air Canada Canada Centre.
The show itself kicked off late at approximately at 8pm EST with a fanfare and welcome before the Parade of Nations, featuring all 550 athletes, commenced.
Along with members of the Canadian military, other performers at the musical extravaganza include singers Sarah McLachlan and Alessia Cara and folk band La Bottine Souriante [the smiling boot].
The Invictus Games was started in 2014 by Prince Harry and was inspired by the US’s Warrior Games. Competitors are drawn from 17 countries, including the UK, US, Canada and Australia, with the US alone sending 90 athletes. All are former or serving members of the military, many of whom suffered life-changing injuries during combat.
Other countries taking part in this year’s event include France, Germany, Estonia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Italy. Servicemen and women from Ukraine, the Netherlands, Denmark and New Zealand will also compete.
The Toronto games will last a week, starting with Saturday evening’s celebrity-studded Opening Ceremony and will end with a concert featuring Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. Last year’s event was held in Orlando, Florida, and along with Prince Harry, then Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill attended.
At times, Harry was seen glancing over in his girlfriend’s direction while other dignitaries kept their focus on the event proceedings. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was equally distracted
Melania remained on her feet to applaud some of the athletes but Harry kept his gaze in the direction of his girlfriend’s seat
Also in the box was Governor General of Canada David Johnston (second row next to Prince Harry) and his wife Sharon (second row, far right)
As the proceedings got underway, Melania and Harry rose to their feet along with the rest of the guests in the VIP box
Melania was just as enthralled by the proceedings, smiling widely as others clapped and cheered for the athletes
As the games began, Harry appeared to loosen up and was seen talking animatedly to the First Lady
Melania seemed to relax just as much in his company after a more formal meeting earlier in the day
Melania proudly rose to her feet to applaud the athletes as the entered the stadium. She kept on the same suit Dior suit she wore earlier in the day
The first games, held in London, saw senior members of the Royal family descend on the Games, among them the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Next year’s event will be held in Sydney, Australia.
The name of the Games is drawn from a Victorian poem by William Earnest Henley, written in 1875.
Titled Invictus, the final two lines have become the Games’ motto and read: ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’ Henley was himself an amputee and the poem reflects his own battle with illness and adversity.
In his case, amputation followed a bad bout of tuberculosis at the age of 12 and for the rest of his life, the red-bearded poet was forced to use a crutch.
Despite his injuries and repeat visits to hospital after his other foot became diseased, the journalist and author married and had one daughter, Margaret.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to the stage to give a speech as the opening ceremony got underway
Trudeau was in high spirits as he took part in the opening ceremony. The universally adored leader high-fived children before returning to his seat
Team GB emerge on the stage at the opening ceremony of the third Invictus games on Saturday night in Toronto, waving union jack flags as the crowds applauded them
Members of the Canadian delegation proudly marched to more cheers and applause as a marching band played behind them
Team Iraq takes to the stage on Saturday at the Air Canada Center in Toronto. The opening ceremony kicked off with a the Parade of Nations at which all 550 athletes who are participating in the games appeared
The Australian team emerge in patriotic colors as part of the Parade of Nations on Saturday night. The games lasts a week. 550 athletes from 17 different nations will take part
Team Netherlands enters the stadium, waving to the crowd as they are cheered through the Parade of the Nations
Comedian Mike Myers took to the stage for a brief appearance. There were several musical performances including one from singer Laura Wright
He eventually succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 53 at his home in Woking in 1903 and was buried in Bedfordshire. Prior to the inaugural Games in London 2014, the poem was read in a promotional video by actors Daniel Craig and Tom Hardy.
Sporting events, conducted in the style of a Paralympic-type competition, include swimming, archery, wheelchair basketball and athletics. Golf is a new addition to this year’s line-up and rowing, sitting volleyball and wheelchair rugby events will also be held. The mascot at the 2017 event is a cartoon Labrador retriever dog named Vimy.
Vimy refers to Vimy Ridge – an engagement during the World War I Battle of Arras in 1917 which saw the Canadian Corps ordered to storm a German position.
Previous French attacks had failed, with the loss of 100,000 lives, but the men of the Canadian Corps prevailed, losing 10,000 in the process.
Earlier on Sunday, Prince Harry became the first member of the Royal Family to meet a member of the Trump family since last year’s Presidential Election.
Mrs Trump and Harry spent less than 30 minutes together before the royal left for another engagement – the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge.
Melania enjoyed a more animated embrace with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before the opening ceremony got underway
The First Lady gave Trudeau a warm hug and a kiss as they exchanged pleasantries backstage before the event kicked off
Melania was just as excited to see Canada’s First Lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau at the event
Melania shook hands with the couple’s children Ella-Grace and Xavier before they were all shown inside to their seats
Despite its brevity, the meeting appeared cordial with the pair warmly shaking hands before settling down to talk in a room at the Sheraton Hotel.
The 33-year-old prince dressed in a dark blue suit while the 47-year-old First Lady wore a tailored black-and-white dog tooth Dior suit and black heels.
Harry initially appeared awkward when he was introduced to the Slovenian former model, smiling brightly for the cameras before letting it drop as he turned away.
The pair then engaged in small talk with Mrs Trump thanking the prince for coming before he asked her if she had been in Canada long.
Later, 33-year-old Harry gushed over the Canadian city during a brief meeting with outgoing Governor General David Johnston.
Toronto has won a special place in the prince’s heart since he began dating Suits actress Meghan Markle who keeps a home there.
Harry, who has spent quiet weekends there with his girlfriend and her dogs, told Governor General Johnston it had become a ‘home away from home’ for him.
Prince Harry had his first meeting with US First Lady Melania Trump in Toronto ahead of the Invictus Games’ opening ceremony on Saturday (Pictured, smiling for photographers)
Despite its brevity, the meeting appeared cordial with the pair warmly shaking hands (pictured) before settling down to talk in a room at the Sheraton Hotel
The 33-year-old prince dressed in a dark blue suit while the 47-year-old First Lady wore a tailored black-and-white dog tooth Dior suit and black heels
Mrs Trump is leading the US delegation at the Invictus Games in her first solo foreign trip and the first known meeting of a member of the royal family with a member of the Trump family since the election(Pictured, Prince Harry and Melania Trump meet on Saturday)
Leading: Melania (pictured, arriving in Toronto) touched down at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Saturday morning
Dressed to impress: Dressed in a Dior suit and trademark sunglasses, the 47-year-old appeared poised as she made her way to Toronto’s Sheraton Hotel for what Kensington Palace described as ‘a bilateral meeting’ with Prince Harry
This is not the Trumps’ first encounter with royalty. In November 2005, the President and First Lady – then just a newlywed couple – met Harry’s father, Prince Charles, during a reception at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (pictured)
For Prince Harry, it’s not his only encounter with a First Lady. He famously got along well with former First Lady Michelle Obama when she and former President Barack Obama visited London in June 2015 (pictured)
‘It’s always fantastic to be here,’ he said. Asked by the Governor General about the Invictus Games Harry said: They have just grown and grown. I’d like them to go on for 50 years if I could.’
Mr Johnston is standing down at the end of the month after seven years in the job to be replaced by businesswoman and former astronaut Julie Payette, who last week met the Queen at Balmoral.
MIKE MYERS FIGHTS BACK TEARS AT INVICTUS GAMES
Actor Mike Myers fought back tears at a press conference promoting Prince Harry’s Invictus Games in his native Toronto, Canada.
Funnyman Mike, the official Ambassador of the games, which start on Saturday, became emotional as he told how his British parents helped fight the Nazis in World War Two.
The Austin Powers star apologized saying, ‘I’m Sorry’ as he began to cry telling how the wounded warriors taking part in the games, injured service men and women from around the world, deserve our respect.
He also revealed how his mother, who cared for his father when he had dementia, died in March this year.
Prince Harry was not at Saturday morning’s press conference.
During their formal meeting earlier in the day, Harry and the US First Lady then settled down to discuss the Invictus Games’ success. Subsequently Mrs Trump moved on to meet some of the veterans taking part for Team USA in the games while Harry moved on to a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Mrs Trump is leading the US delegation at the international sporting event in her first solo foreign trip and the first known meeting of a member of the royal family with a member of the Trump family since the election.
It’s not the Trumps’ first encounter with royalty, however.
In November 2005, the President and First Lady – then just a newlywed couple – met Harry’s father, Prince Charles, during a reception at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Mrs Trump’s decision to lead the American delegation, whose members include Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, professional golfer Nancy Lopez and entertainer Wayne Newton, reflects the first lady’s ‘utmost respect’ for the hard work, courage and sacrifice of the US military, said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Melania.
‘She feels strongly that they – and their families – should be honored every day,’ Grisham said.
Grisham said Mrs Trump, who became a US citizen in 2006, also has ‘great admiration for the role the games have played in empowering those who have been injured while serving.’
Later in the afternoon, Mrs Trump returned to the Sheraton to take part in a reception with Team USA athletes where she made a brief speech that lasted less than two minutes.
In the address, she said: ‘Invictus means unconquered and pays tribute to your fighting spirit. You have given so much for your country. You truly are our heroes. On behalf of my husband and our entire country, I want to thank you and your families for all you have sacrificed to keep us safe. I also want to wish you good luck but I know you won’t need it in these games. Take that fighting spirit that I know you have and bring home the gold.
‘God bless you. God bless your families and God bless the United States of America.’
Following her remarks, the First Lady shook hands with several athletes, including a seven or eight who approached her and asked for individual photos with their cell phones.
Following his meeting with the First Lady, Prince Harry attended Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge, where competitors race either Jaguars in a speed and precision course or Land Rovers in an obstacle course.
Harry was all smiles as he was sent on a spin in a miniature Land Rovers with little Daimyb Gommers.
He then moved on to a meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau, who is also a friend of Meghan Markle.
After shaking hands, Harry thanked him and described the reaction to Invictus in Canada as ‘absolutely amazing.’
‘There’s a real buzz across Toronto – everyone’s getting into it,’ he said.
Trudeau also thanked Harry and added that, ‘Sophie and I wish every competitor the best.’
Firm friends: Prince Harry meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Toronto on Saturday, September 23
As the press were summoned out, Harry put aside his airs and graces and leaned in to whisper Trudeau a joke – which made him loudly splutter with laughter
And as the press were summoned out, Harry put aside his airs and graces and leant in to whisper Trudeau a joke – which made him loudly splutter with laughter.
Trudeau – who has a famously flamboyant taste in socks – had donned a bright scarlet pair for his meeting with Prince Harry.
The powerful duo had a clear rapport when Harry flew out to promote Invictus in Toronto last year.
The various meetings and events come ahead of the opening ceremony of Invictus Games, games for wounded service personnel.
Earlier that morning, the Prince who was greeted by crowds of adoring fans – and a even a couple of dogs – as he left following a meeting at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on Saturday.
The royal had just come from meeting with healthcare workers at Canada’s largest mental health and addiction hospital to discuss their work in research and technology with a focus on young people.
Among the topics discussed at the round table discussion was potential preventative cure to stop soldiers suffering from PTSD, closely tying the work to upcoming Games.
After his meeting with the First Lady, Prince Harry headed off to the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge in the Distillery District (Pictured, Daimyb Gommers takes Prince Harry for a spin in a miniature Land Rover)
Prince Harry shakes Daimyb Gommers’s hand after she took him for a spin in a miniature Land Rover
The Prince then took a spin in a bit of a larger car – a Jaguar F-TYPE – at the Jaguar Land Rover driver challenger
After being told one of the center’s main approaches is prevention, the prince told doctors: ‘It seems we suffer from a culture where a pill will fix everything. There has to be a better way than just giving out anti-depressants.
‘There were 65million given out in one year in the UK alone. That’s why I look to you guys in this room. Everyone is uniquely wired is what I keep saying. There is no one silver bullet, no one cure for everyone.’
During a round-table discussion about mental health research, Dr Fang Liu told Prince Harry that her team has discovered a protein complex which could lead to a potential anecdote to prevent soldiers from suffering from PTSD.
It is now being tested on ‘animal models’ and could one day be given to soldiers as a pill.The prince asked several questions about the treatment, before declaring: ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’
The young royal was also praised for his work in raising the issue of mental health and helping to reduce the stigma.
He modestly said: ‘It’s a massive team effort and everyone is doing their bit just trying to normalize it so people can seek help without judgement. If everyone can do that, it’s better for everyone.’
Prince Harry’s mother Princess Diana also visited the center in 1991.
Gloria Chaim, head of community engagement and partnership, met the princess 26 years ago as well as Prince Harry yesterday. She told him: ‘They loved her. She made them feel like important, valued people.’
Furry friends: The 33-year-old prince dressed in a dark blue blazer, a light blue shirt and khaki-colored pants was seen smiling as he shook hands, bent down to greet children and even pet a dog.
All smiles: Prince Harry is in Toronto ahead of the opening ceremony of Invictus Games, games for wounded service personnel, where he is expected to make his first public appearance with actress girlfriend Meghan Markle, 36.
Prince Harry kicked off a busy day meeting youngsters being treated at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada’s largest mental health and addiction hospital as well as workers (pictured)
At a meeting with outgoing Governor General David Johnston and his wife Sharon, Harry said Toronto had become a ‘home away from home’
Yesterday, the prince also found time to visit the Pan Am Centre to watch the swimmers being put through their paces, stopping to give a hug to runner Kristin Lane, 23, from Brisbane, Australia.
Lane, who had been dozing when the Prince arrived, told DailyMail.com: ‘He woke me up and then we just embraced. I’ve met him a couple of times before so he must have recognized me.
‘He just said, “How are you?” and we chatted about a few things.’
The athlete told DailyMail.com that he spent four years in the Army before being injured. He received a medical discharge two months ago but said the Games is helping him to adjust.
Lane said: ‘Being here is awesome – the whole journey has been really good and it’s great being here with all the guys.’ The 23-year-old will compete this week in the 100, 200 and 400m events.
Harry also joked with a group of Australian swimmers, laughingly pretending to drop kick a kangaroo mascot into the pool.
Swimmer Chris Clark, 45, told DailyMail.com that he almost believed Harry was serious saying: ‘He’s a lovely young man. I half thought he was serious for a moment – he can get away with things I can’t.’
Coach Amy Beal, 33, of Perth, Australia, added: ‘He was joking about our boxing kangaroo – his name is Skip but Chris’ son calls him Roger. Roger is going everywhere with Chris during this trip.
She continued: ‘Roger has a spine so Harry was asking, what have you got in there? What are you trying to smuggle through customs?’
Melania Trump greets members of Team USA prior to attending the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto
Supporting the cause: Melania greets members of Team USA prior to the opening ceremony of the games; Michelle Obama championed the games the first two years and this was Melania’s first time meeting the group
Hug for a hero: Australian athlete Kris Lane, 23, from Brisbane, Australia, was embraced by the prince who was watching a training session at the Pan Am Centre in Toronto on the day before the opening of his Invictus Games.
UNCONQUERED: HARRY’S GAMES OF COURAGE
The Invictus Games, now in its third edition, was started in 2014 by Prince Harry and was inspired by the USA’s Warrior Games.
Competitors are drawn from 17 countries, including the U.K., USA, Canada and Australia and 550 veterans will take part in this year’s event.
All are former or serving members of the military, many of whom suffered life-changing injuries during combat.
The event will last a week, beginning with a celebrity-studded Opening Ceremony on Saturday night. Guests will include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US First Lady Melania Trump.
Last year’s event was held in Orlando, Florida, and along with Prince Harry, then Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill attended.
The first edition, held in London, saw senior members of the Royal family descend on the Games, among them the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Next year’s event will be held in Sydney, Australia.
The name of the Games is drawn from a Victorian poem by William Earnest Henley, written in 1875.
Titled Invictus, the final two lines have become the Games’ motto and read: ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’
Prior to the inaugural Games in London 2014, the poem was read in a promotional video by actors Daniel Craig and Tom Hardy.
Although neither are expected at this year’s event, high profile guests lending their support include comedian Mike Myers, rocker Bruce Springsteen and musician turned photographer Bryan Adams.
As well as Team Australia, athletes inside the venue came from all 17 competing nations, among them Team USA and Team GB.
Beal said she and other members had previously met Harry during the Sydney Invictus Games launch in June and said he had remembered him.
‘We met him in Sydney for the launch in June so he recognized us,’ she said.
‘He was talking about jet lag because he knew we had come all the way from Australia, plus our prep and whether we are ready.
‘He’s like a friend – just joking around and having fun.’
She added: ‘We’re quietly confident that we’ll be competitive – I’m here to ensure these guys achieve what they want to.’
Harry’s first engagement of the day was at Scotia Plaza to attend the True Patriot Love Symposium; an annual meeting that brings together representatives from non-profit foundations, business and government to discuss how best to help military veterans and their families.
The agenda at this year’s event, which was being livestreamed online throughout the day, is focused on soldiers’ wellbeing during both peacetime and during war.
Harry spent part of the morning at the event, meeting Invictus competitors and their families who are taking part in a panel discussion.
He congratulated a pregnant athlete who’s taking part in his Paralympic-style Invictus Games and was told she hopes to bring their baby to the contest next year.
Harry, 33, met Randi Gavell who’s set to compete in several sports in the coming week in Toronto.
The former staff sergeant, who was medically retired from the US army in 2010 after suffering a traumatic brain injury following a truck bomb blast in Iraq in 2006, is expecting a girl, she told Harry at a meeting with families at a special pre-games conference.
‘The first question I asked my doctor was if I could still go to Canada,’ she told Harry when he congratulated her.
‘I’ll take it easy, I will be careful. It’s a girl and we’re pretty excited. She will probably have more medals before she’s born!’
Gavell, who is four and a half months pregnant, is in Toronto with her husband Richard Hobson, a serving staff sergeant in the U.S Army and he told Harry that ‘maybe next year you’ll meet the baby.’
Gavell, who is set to take part in rowing, swimming, sitting volleyball and track events, then handed him a gift of a Team USA coin, and told the prince: ‘It’s so amazing for us to have this opportunity. We couldn’t have done his without you.’
Ready for action: Prince Harry will officially open the Invictus Games on Saturday and met athletes who are in the final stages of training
Lots to watch: The prince kept an eye on the wheelchair basketball as members of the Danish team took to the court to compete against the team from the Netherlands in a practice session
Man of the moment: A huge crowd was outside the Scotia Plaza in Toronto as Prince Harry left the first official engagement of his stay in the Canadian city, which is hosting his Invictus Games
Face to face with a hero: Prince Harry knelt to talk to Trevor Greene, who was a captain in the Canadian Armed Forces’ Seaforth Highlanders when he suffered a massive brain injury in combat in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2006. He and his wife, Debbie, were among those taking part in the prince’s first engagement ahead of the Invictus Games opening ceremony.
Photo time: Prince Harry posed for pictures with Australian veteran and athlete Mark Reidy, his wife Karen May, and their children at the True Love Patriot Symposium in Toronto
Harry mania! One woman was delighted to get a sighting of the Prince in Scotia Plaza, Toronto, Friday
Happy to be here: Smiling and relaxed Prince Harry arrived for the first engagement he is holding in Toronto ahead of his Invictus Games. His girlfriend Meghan Markle is expected to attend
In love: Meghan Markle broke her silence on the relationship with Prince Harry telling Vanity Fair: ‘We are two people who are really happy and in love.’