The Opening Ceremony of the first ever Invictus Games took place on the 10th September, marking the start of the highly anticipated international sports competition for ‘wounded warriors’ in London.
Watching in the stand was Prince Harry who launched the event in March this year. Alongside him were the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke of Cambridge. The public showed their support of the event, with 6,500 people gathered on the South Lawn of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the military-themed ceremony which was broadcast live on BBC’s The One Show.
The event roared into life with a spectacular Red Arrows fly-past after a short rendition of the national anthem by the Band of the Irish Guards, the Central Band of the RAF, and the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Collingwood. Singer Laura Wright took to the stage followed by actor Idris Elba who recited ‘Invictus’, the famous 1875 poem by William Ernest Henley that proclaims strength in the face of adversity. First Lady Michelle Obama sent a video message talking of the inspirational example the competitors set.
A parade of all 416 athletes taking part in nine sports over coming days followed, with competitors from Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Georgia, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and the USA. The 130-strong British Armed Forces team entered last to rapturous applause from the crowd. There was also a fly-past by helicopters, a rifle demonstration by the Queen’s Colour Squadron and displays by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
Prince Harry said in his speech
“Over the next four days we will see some truly remarkable achievements. For some of those taking part, this will be a stepping stone to elite sport but for others it will mark the end of a chapter in their recovery, and the beginning of a new one. Either way, you can be sure that, everyone who takes to the track, pool or field of play will be giving it their all. I have no doubt that lives will be changed this weekend. It gives me great pleasure to welcome the thirteen nations to London and to say how delighted I am that many of you are joined by your families, recognising the vital party they play in your recovery.”