Sahel Standard Personality of the Week: Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex and his Invictus Games.

Despite a fractious relationship with his family, Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex military family was always going to be his focus as he visited UK this week to attend events marking the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games, the Patronage he founded for wounded, injured servicemen and women so as to give them hope and recovery through sports.

A veteran himself, he went on two deployments in Afghanistan, first
serving as a forward air controller in missions against the Taliban, and a second time as an Apache helicopter pilot.

While returning from deployment in Afghanistan, Prince Harry watched as the coffin of a Danish Soldier was loaded aboard for repatriation, alongside three injured British soldiers. That moment had a profound impact on him and, following a visit to the US Warrior Games in 2013, he was inspired to create the International Invictus Games to celebrate the unconquered human spirit, and shine a spotlight on these men and women who served.

The Invictus Games Foundation which has the Prince as its Patron is the Charity that governs the delivery of the Games and “offers a recovery pathway for international wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women (WIS). We collaborate to provide opportunities for post-traumatic growth: enabling those involved to reclaim their purpose, identity and future, beyond injury”, it says on its website.

A third of the Foundation’s team are members of the wounded, injured and sick veteran community and Invictus Games alumni, ensuring that the Foundation’s work is directly influenced by the Invictus community.

In furtherance of this mission, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle began their visit to Nigeria on friday as guests of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Prince Harry’s visit to the 44 Army Reference Hospital Kaduna later in the day where he met wounded soldiers underscores his passion for injured armed forces personnel, serving or veterens, and is at the core of the establishment of the Games.

“The invictus games is more than a Patronage for Harry. It’s a genuine passion, not a royal patronage gifted by his family. It’s his thing” stated Chief Executive Dominic Reid, OBE, speaking with Sky News, who has been there from the beginning and doesn’t believe the split in the family has had any negative impact on the Invictus.

Personal stories highlights the impact the games have had on wounded armed forces personnel. With a focus on participation rather than the medal table, the Invictus Games celebrate personal bests and making it to the start line. “..The spirit of the Games therefore lies not in elite sport, but the delivery of a high-profile, international, adaptive sports event where rehabilitation of the individual is at the core”.

Since the inaugural games in London in
2014 the games has held in Orlando, Toronto, Sydney, The Hague and Dusseldorf in Germany in 2023. The next Invictus Games will take place in Vancouver – Whistler, Canada in 2025.

Nigeria had its first entry last year and is the first African country to participate in the Games.

The invictus games and it’s Foundation also shine the spotlight on the mental health of injured servicemen and women as they navigate the difficult period of their lives.

Prince Harry’s work as a mental health advocate was brought to the fore on Day 1 of their visit to Nigeria as they attended a school where he and his wife Meghan Markle spoke on mental health.

Despite everything else going on in his personal life, the invictus games will continue to be a huge part of his charity work. The impact the games have had in the past 10 years cannot be denied, staying true to its mantra ” Changing lives and Saving Lives through Sport”.

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