British Royal Family

Game on, Down Under! Prince Harry launches Invictus, 2018

Prince Henry of Wales has officially green-lighted the 2018 Invictus Games.

By Bella Brennan

Despite the dreary weather, Prince Harry, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, was given the brightest of welcomes at Admiralty House in Kirribilli on Wednesday morning, where the royal launched the 2018 Invictus Games and commenced the 500-day countdown.

Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, began the proceedings with an address thanking Prince Harry for his flying visit and paying his respects to the victims of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London.

"Our hearts go out to all the recent victims of terror attacks, we extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims," he said.

"In a poignant way, it underscores why the Invictus Games should be staged. Events like this, become even more important because they offer hope and inspiration, and they change lives and inspire others," Sir Peter Cosgrove added.

Prince Harry then delivered a powerful speech, highlighting the importance of the event to help the community and former military men and women find hope and inspiration in dark times.

"I'd like to start by sending my thoughts to those affected by Saturday's attack in London Bridge. Australian's form an important and vibrant part of the fabric of life in London and we are reminded of that in good times and bad, and our hearts go out to their friends and families," Harry said.

The 32-year-old then opened up about the series of horrific events that inspired him to create the Invictus Games.

"In February, 2008, I was forced to leave Afghanistan. I'd been serving as an army officer in the British army on the front-line until my presence leaked out into the press. I can no longer stay with my soldiers as it would have put them at greater risk. It was a decision over which I had no control but the guilt at having to leave my guys behind was the one thing I found hard to swallow," he shared.

Prince Harry has revealed the harrowing inspiration behind creating the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry has revealed the harrowing inspiration behind creating the Invictus Games.

"It was that flight home from Afghanistan which put me on the path to create the Invictus Games. While we sat waiting to board, the coffin of a Danish solider was loaded onto the plane. Also on the flight were three, young British solders in induced comas."

"All three were wrapped in plastic, some with missing limbs and tubes coming out of them everywhere. The sacrifices we ask our service men and women to make came home to me so powerfully in those moments."

"Four years later, after another tour of Afghanistan, I began to look for ways in which I could support those veterans which in previous years, simply would have been un-survivable," Harry explained.

After visiting the Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013, the former military man finally had his light-bulb moment and realised sport was the key.

"Sport is what would make the difference. Sport would help these guys and girls fix their lives," Harry beamed. "I left Colorado with a determination to take this to an international audience."

And true to his word, Harry has done just that with the Invictus Games launching in 2014 with huge success.

This year, the Games will be held in Toronto, Canada, before moving to Sydney in 2018.

WATCH: Prince Harry addresses the London attacks. Post continues after the video

After witnessing the realities of the front-line while serving in Afghanistan, the prince was determined to create an event to help his military colleagues.
After witnessing the realities of the front-line while serving in Afghanistan, the prince was determined to create an event to help his military colleagues.

Harry admitted he couldn't wait to bring the Games here as Australia holds a very special place in his heart. "I'm also lucky enough to call a number of [Aussie] diggers my mates."

"We are here today, because in 500 hundred days the Invictus Games will be held in one of the most sports-mad countries in the world. I am so pleased that Australia and NSW will be taking on the Invictus baton from Canada."

"As Australians know better than anyone, sport has an unparalleled ability to bring people together. I know some of you here today would agree sport can change and in some cases, save lives."

The passionate humanitarian also touched on remarkable stories of the human spirit that perfectly encapsulate what the Games are all about.

"When a bomb left a number of people with life-changing injuries in Manchester last month, wounded veterans - including Invictus team members - immediately offered themselves to provide advice and support to the victims," Harry noted.

WATCH: Why Invictus is so important to Prince Harry. Post continues after the video...

"The Invictus Games are coming to Australia – game on Down Under!"
"The Invictus Games are coming to Australia – game on Down Under!"

"Sydney will soon be the custodian of the Invictus spirit and the focus for hundreds of men and women using the Invictus Games to motivate their recovery from physical and mental injuries."

“I know that people across the country – from Perth to Sydney, from Darwin to Adelaide – will embrace the Invictus Games and show their support for competitors from their local towns and right across the country. I have no doubt that the Sydney public will make these games their own."

Capping off his address, Harry signed off with an exciting message: “The Invictus Games are coming to Australia – game on Down Under!"

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