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Harry marks Invictus Games milestone with thanksgiving service

By PA News

The Duke of Sussex celebrated the 10th anniversary of his Invictus Games with family, friends and veterans – as the King hosted a garden party.

Harry was joined for the service of thanksgiving by close relatives of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales and a mentor who supported him after her death, along with hundreds from the “Invictus family”.

The St Paul’s Cathedral service to recognise the Paralympic-style competition the royal founded began as a few miles away Charles met guests at the first Buckingham Palace garden party of the year.

The Duke of Sussex attended a service of thanksgiving to mark the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games (Yui Mok/PA)
The Duke of Sussex attended a service of thanksgiving to mark the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games (Yui Mok/PA)

The monarch and his son have not met during Harry’s brief UK visit due to the King’s “full programme” said Harry’s spokesman in a statement.

There have been reports of issues of trust but the statement had a conciliatory tone and mentioned how the duke hoped to “see him soon”.

Among the guests for the service were Diana’s siblings Lady Jane Fellowes and Earl Spencer, and former army officer Mark Dyer, who acted as the duke’s mentor, playing the role of a supportive big brother figure for Harry after the princess’s death.

Crowds had gathered around crash barriers to see the duke’s car pull up, and there was a large number of journalists, photographers, and cameramen covering his every move.

Harry acknowledge them with a wave as he strode up St Paul’s steps and was warmly greeted warmly greeted by the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett.

Harry was inspired to found the global tournament after attending the Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013 and seeing how injured American military personnel thrived on the challenge of taking part in competitive sports that aided their recovery.

He went on to stage the inaugural games in London’s Olympic Park in 2014 and the tournament has been held across the globe from Orlando and Sydney to Dusseldorf in 2023, with the 2025 event being hosted in Vancouver and Whistler.

The St Paul’s congregation of just over 1,000 people gave a standing ovation after ex-RAF servicewoman Michelle Turner, husband John and daughter Maya each read verses of a poem that described their experiences following Mrs Turner’s medical discharge, after a tropical disease she caught while on deployment affected her heart.

Mrs Turner, Team UK captain for the 2018 Games, told the guests: “Wounded, injured, sick, and now with no career: consumed by insecurities, the pain and the fear.

Crowds gathered to see the duke (Yui Mok/PA)
Crowds gathered to see the duke (Yui Mok/PA)

“Our lives were upside down, how could it be, that the little girl I was meant to protect, was now looking after me.”

At the end, after her voice broke with emotion as she said “Thank you Invictus for giving my life back”, the congregation stood and applauded.

The Dean of St Paul’s echoed her words in his sermon when he said the Invictus Games Foundation, which organises the competition, was “ … not only changing lives through sport but quite literally by saving lives”.

Harry later joined some of the Invictus community for a private reception in the cathedral’s crypt and it is thought he will travel on Thursday to Nigeria, for a tour of the African country with his wife Meghan.

When the duke left he went on a brief walkabout, shaking hands with some of the well-wishers who had waited to catch a glimpse of him.

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