The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are preparing to farewell Australia after delivering moving tributes at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry and wife Meghan received standing ovations on Saturday night when they took to the stage to thank the 500 wounded and ill defence veterans from 18 nations who competed at the games in Sydney, and their army of supporters.
The royal couple joined the 12,000-strong crowd in clapping and cheering throughout the two-hour long ceremony that included performances by Perth rock outfit Birds of Tokyo and the gospel singers from the US-based Kingdom Choir who performed at Meghan and Harry’s wedding in May.
The closing ceremony was the final event on the royal couple’s official itinerary for their 10-day visit to Sydney, Dubbo, Melbourne and Fraser Island.
Harry and Meghan are due to fly out of Sydney on Sunday morning and head to New Zealand, where they will wrap up their 16-day regional tour that has also included Fiji and Tonga.
Meghan chose the Invictus closing ceremony to make her only public speech of the Australian leg of the tour, praising the hundreds of friends and family who supported the competitors all the way to the finish line and beyond.
“The support system on the ground here at Invictus is unlike any other,” said the duchess, who wore a khaki Antonio Berardi halter-neck dress with a red poppy.
“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.”
Among the VIPs in the crowd were soccer star and Invictus ambassador David Beckham along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.
When Harry took to the stage to deliver the final speech of the night, he made sure everyone knew it was the Invictus competitors who were the real VIPs.
He said the success of the games was not about the medical miracles that had saved so many of the lives of the competitors, many of whom have physical injuries as well mental ones in the form of PTSD or depression
Instead it was because the competitors showed time and again that mental health was “the real key to recovery”.
“Our competitors have helped turn the issue of mental health from a sad story to an inspiring one,” Harry said.
“They want to live rather than just be alive.”