Prince Harry and Meghan Markle all smiles while riding miniature Land Rovers at Invictus Games event
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The Invictus Games kicked off on Saturday with an automotive obstacle course ahead of an evening opening ceremony attended by the games’ founder, prince harryand his wife Meghan Markle.
Harry founded the Invictus Games to aid the rehabilitation of injured or sick military service members and veterans, by giving them the challenge of competing in sports events similar to the Paralympics. This year’s competition is taking place in the Dutch city of The Hague.
Ahead of the opening ceremony, he got up close to the action when he was driven around the obstacle course. The couple later waved to spectators as they were driven around in miniature Land Rover cars with children at the wheel.
On Friday, the duke and duchess of Sussex, as Harry and Meghan are also known, attended a welcome event for competitors and their friends and family, joining them at the event that runs through April 22.
PRINCE HARRY, MEGHAN MARKLE MAKE FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE IN EUROPE SINCE STEPPING BACK AS SENIOR ROYALS
Harry, who served 10 years in the British Army, has been a champion of causes that benefit both servicemen and women. He has been involved with the Walking with the Wounded charity and the Endeavor Fund, which honors veterans. Just days after welcoming his son Archie in May 2019, he traveled to the Netherlands to kick off the official countdown to the 2020 games.
It was the couple’s first public appearance in Europe since they gave up their formal royal roles and moved to the US more than two years ago.
Among some 500 competitors from 20 nations taking part in the games is a team of 19 from Ukraine — many of them taking a brief break from defending their country against the Russian invasion that triggered a devastating war.
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The competitors take part in athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby, as well as Saturday’s driving challenge organized by one of the event’s official partners, car maker Jaguar Land Rover.
Harry and Meghan’s arrival in the Netherlands took place just a day after the couple visited queen elizabeth ii at Windsor Castle on their first joint visit to the UK since moving to America.
harry and meghan stepped down as senior working royals and moved to North America in 2020, citing the unbearable pressure of their roles and racist attitudes of the British media.
Although this is the first time the royal couple has made their return together to the UK, Harry has been back for two occasions. Nearly a year ago, he returned for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021 and then again in July 2021 to witness the unveiling of a statue in honor of his late mother of him, Princess Diana.
The visit to the queen came on Maundy Thursday, a day in the week before Easter that the queen for decades marked by distributing silver coins known as “Maundy money” to pensioners at a church service.
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This year, the queen, who has been experiencing mobility issues in recent months and came down with COVID-19 in February, did not attend. She was represented by her eldest son de ella, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla.
The monarch is also expected to miss the royal family’s Easter Sunday church service. She has continued to perform royal duties, including virtual audiences with politicians and diplomats.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.