Speech by The Duke of Sussex at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Opening Ceremony
20 October 2018
Hello, Sydney. Hello, Australia. And hello, Invictus.
On this day in 1973, my grandmother, The Queen, stood in front of this Opera House and declared it open.
Forty-five years later, to the day, it is my honour to be standing in front of this iconic symbol of Australia’s place in the modern world at the start of the fourth Invictus Games.
I’m sure you’ll all agree that these Games have never had a more beautiful backdrop.
Many of you will have heard me explain the genesis of these Games before.
From my life-changing flight back from the battlefields of Afghanistan, to the example of America’s warrior games, Invictus was inspired by the experiences I had alongside our servicemen and women from many nations.
These Games were created for our men and women in uniform; designed around their talents and their needs; and built not just for them, but also for the friends and families that have supported their recoveries and had their lives changed forever.
Over the last four years though, the Invictus Games have become about much more than the thousands of competitors who have taken part.
Invictus has become about the example of service and dedication our competitors have provided to the world.
Our Invictus family has turned these games into a symbol of strength, honour and optimism for a new generation.
In a few weeks’ time, you will honour the memory of the generation that fought the First World War – including the sacrifices of the ANZACS whose ethos and heroic actions helped forge the character of this great country.
So much has rightly been made of my grandmother’s generation who endured the horrors of the Second World War and then rebuilt a world order around freedom and tolerance.
The legendary bravery and resilience of the Aussie digger – to this day – commands respect and admiration.
And the efforts of your soldiers to defend this nation and support your allies in theatres from the Kokoda Trail, Vietnam and Korea, to Iraq and Afghanistan, have been outstanding.
The values that define this country’s services – courage, endurance, mateship, sacrifice – are an example to all.
But if we’re being honest, we know that in many nations, the place of our men and women in uniform became too often undervalued in the decades after the Second World War.
The sacrifice and character of our troops never changed, but society’s recognition of them too often wavered.
But that has changed.
A new generation – the Invictus generation – is defining what it means to serve. And we are all taking notice.
The Invictus generation has chosen to serve their countries in conflicts that are complex and dangerous and far too often, this dedication goes unrecognised.
They have reminded us all what selfless duty really looks like.
With the help of medical science, the Invictus generation has not only survived injuries that in past conflicts would have been fatal, but has also chosen to fight back from the darkest of places to be here tonight. They have shown us the true meaning of resilience.
When they have been open about their hidden emotional and mental wounds, the Invictus generation has shown us that in today’s world, being tough means being honest about how we feel – both inside and out.
When they have taken to the tracks, fields and pools in London, Orlando, and Toronto, the Invictus generation has exemplified sportsmanship, bravery and world-class athleticism.
They have shown us all that the most difficult challenges can be overcome.
When the families and friends of our competitors have lifted them up, overseen their recoveries, and cheered them across the finish lines, the Invictus generation has redefined what shared sacrifice means.
They have reminded us all of our duties to each other – to support our mates, to serve our communities, and to respect those closest to us and those whose stories we will never know.
And when all of us have watched the Games on TV or in the stands, we too have become part of the Invictus generation.
We have learned to reject pessimism and cynicism. We have allowed ourselves to be inspired. And we have shared in moments of hope, joy, and triumph that have served as an antidote to the narrative of division and despair we too often allow to define our era.
So when all of you compete over the next week, remember that you do so, not just for yourselves; not just for your families; not just for your nations.
You are competing with different flags on your chest, but you are competing together for one Invictus generation.
You are the unconquered generation. You are…you are the optimistic generation. You are the new generation of service and you are the role models to us all.
And you are going to put on one hell of a show over the next week.
Now, before I close, I want to say something directly to our hosts, the people of Australia.
First of all, thank you for the welcome you have given Meghan and I over the last few days.
I have been so proud to be able to introduce my wife to you and we have been so happy to be able to celebrate the personal joy of our newest addition with you all.
But now, I have a mission for all of you Aussies. And it’s not how many shrimps you can put on the barbie! Our competitors have made it to these games, most of them travelling from many thousands of miles away.
It’s your job to cheer them on and share their stories. It’s your privilege to watch in the stands or with your friends and families around the television. It’s your responsibility to make sure your children know how amazing these guys and girls really are.
Be inspired. Get excited. Allow the example of service and determination you will see, to change something big or small in your own lives.
Show the world what Game On, Down Under really means.
Australia – let’s show the world how it’s done.