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Prince Harry Surprised Invictus Volunteers Ahead of 2023 Dusseldorf Games: See Photo

Prince Harry Surprised Invictus Volunteers Ahead of 2023 Dusseldorf Games: See Photo
Prince HarryChris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Prince Harry made his first public appearance of the 2023 Invictus Games — and it was a total shock to organizers.

“The Duke of Sussex dropped in this morning to meet with our international group of volunteer categorizers,” a note from the foundation via X (formerly Twitter) read on Saturday, September 9. “This group, led by @weareinvictus, conducts all assessments of the competitors at the #InvictusGames to facilitate fair competition in recovery.”

The prince, 38, was all smiles in his Invictus polo shirt as he posed for a photo with members of the event’s team. The 2023 games kick off in Düsseldorf, Germany, later this month.

Harry is one of the founders of the Invictus Games, which is an international sporting event for wounded, injured or sick military veterans. The Duke of Sussex pioneered the initiative in 2014 and has since become a staple at the annual games.

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“No one wants sympathy. All they want is an opportunity to prove themselves and that’s what this is all about,” Harry said of the competition during a 2016 appearance on Good Morning America, citing his own experience on the front lines. (Harry served two tours of duty in the British army and ultimately retired as a captain.)

Prince Harry Surprised Invictus Volunteers Ahead of 2023 Dusseldorf Games: See Photo
Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Since Harry married Meghan Markle in 2018, the 41-year-old former actress has frequently attended the games by his side. Meghan, who shares two children with Harry, is also expected to join him at the Düsseldorf event.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are delighted to attend the Invictus Games 2023 in Düsseldorf,” a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan told Us Weekly in a statement last month. “The Duke will be in attendance throughout the entirety of the games and will be joined by The Duchess shortly after the games begin.”

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This year’s games come shortly after Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Productions debuted their Heart of Invictus documentary on Netflix. The doc follows five veterans as they prepared to compete in the 2020 Invictus Games after serving their countries.

“Not everyone agrees on what qualifies as a just war,” Harry explained in Heart of Invictus, which started streaming last month. “But I think we would all agree on the damage that war causes to so many people.”

Harry further opened up about his own experience coming home from the armed forces. “The trigger for me was actually returning from Afghanistan, but the stuff that was coming up was from 1997, from the age of 12,” he said, referring to his mother Princess Diana’s fatal car crash. “Losing my mum at such a young age, the trauma that I had, I was never really aware of. It was never discussed; I didn’t really talk about it, and I suppressed it like most youngsters would have done.”

The Spare author added that therapy helped him cope with the trauma. “But then when it all came fizzing out, I was bouncing off the walls. I was like, ‘What is going on here? I’m now feeling everything as opposed to being numb,’” he said.

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