The sixth installment of the Duke of Sussex's Paralympics-style competition for service personnel and veterans is kicking off in Germany
Prince Harry took a moment to salute veterans at the Invictus Games, and admit that things might be getting "a little bit more competitive" after a new nation joined the game — thanks to a revelation from his wife, Meghan Markle.
The Duke of Sussex, 38, gave an empowering speech at the event's opening ceremony on Saturday to kick off the sixth Invictus Games, being held for the first time in Germany. Speaking in Düsseldorf, Harry shared words of wisdom about self-discovery and teamwork, while also giving a cheeky shout-out to Meghan, 42.
Toward the end of his speech, Harry recognized new nations joining the games — including Colombia, Israel and Nigeria — and as he explained, Nigeria definitely has fans in his household.
"Now, I'm not saying we play favorites in our home, but since my wife discovered she's of Nigerian descent, it's likely to get a little bit more competitive this year," he admitted, referencing Meghan discovering that she is 43% Nigerian, thanks to a genealogy test years back, which she opened up about in October 2022.
Harry even began his remarks by speaking German, before sharing that the past year "went very fast," having gone "from stroopwafel to schnitzels in the blink of an eye."
"Now, remember that feeling of pride and honor when you first wore your nation's flag on your uniform? Most of us perhaps remember more its final outing, or the time we hung it up for good," Harry said. "Am I right in saying for some, it represented a cape? Perhaps a shield, or an escape? For others, an opportunity, a recognition, or a calling? No matter what it meant to you then, or your reasons for signing up, it was always about being of service to others and to your mates."
"You discovered things about yourself you'd never knew. Skills and abilities you didn't know that you had," he added. "You unlocked your potential and performance. And you understood the power of working as a team. Ultimately, you were part of a purpose larger than yourself, and that feeling felt good. And I'm guessing a lot of you in this stadium tonight have felt the absence of that feeling for months, maybe years. Well, not anymore."
The Duke of Sussex then asked those in attendance to look at their current uniforms, and while he noted that they may not be camouflage, they are "once again part of a team" and are "surrounded by people who know what it means to serve, who have a good idea of what it's taken to get here, who see and know you, and who respect you through your shared experience."
"This year's games is a home for respect. Think about that word for a second, respect. What does it mean to you? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Some people may act like respect is something that veterans are asking for, that people with injuries — whether visible or invisible — have to demonstrate they're worthy of it," Harry added. "Some of you here may sometimes feel that way about yourselves. That you have something to prove."
"But I've been thinking about something one of the competitors featured in the Heart of Invictus shared. Mr. Na from South Korea said, 'I don't think we overcome disabilities. We overcome perceptions of ourselves in society.' These games are not solely about medals... They are about overcoming any and all perceptions that held you back, especially those you've placed on yourselves."
The Invictus Games founder then encouraged the crowd to "break those ceilings" and "plow down the highest of walls" to "make space for what's deserved."
"Space for your worthiness. Space to thrive. Space for the truest form of respect. Claim this experience. Claim this moment because all of this, all of us, are here because of you," he shared, as some audience members appeared teary-eyed. "This isn't a gift, this isn't a handout, this is yours. You've got to take it."
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Then came time for a special shout-out from Harry, who recognized both Team Ukraine and a woman named Tyra, who stood up when her name was called. "I don't think I've ever met someone as courageous or as resilient as you," Harry said. "I think I speak for everyone when I say that you embody the true spirit of Ukraine and of Invictus. And it is so good to see you and feel your energy in person, because man, did we miss you last year."
To close his speech, Harry asked the crowd to "cross every opportunity and revel in it," and reminded them that they "have my respect."
"Because in your joy, in your happiness, in your achievement, we all benefit. It is a gift as people that we can find joy in the pursuit of our aspirations," Harry said. "And also provide it unknowingly to others along the way. You may well be the person someone is looking to for inspiration. Because you haven't let fear control you."
At last year’s games in The Hague in the western Netherlands, the Duke of Sussex began his opening ceremony speech by sharing a kiss with his wife, who is expected to join him at the games later this week.
Harry had pointed out the "boundless humility, the compassion and the friendship" of the Invictus Games while highlighting the Netherlands and the Ukrainian team, in particular.
Harry then told the crowd before him, "To be role models, or the role models that each of you are, it takes strength and it takes courage," as he went on to speak about son Prince Archie, 4, and his potential career aspirations.
"When I talk to my son Archie about what he wants to be when he grows up, some days it's an astronaut, other days it's a pilot — a helicopter pilot obviously — or Kwazii from Octonauts," Harry said with a laugh, adding, "If you're laughing, then you've seen that."
The royal first created the Invictus Games as a way of bringing together wounded veterans in a spirit of friendly competition. Speaking to PEOPLE at last year’s games, Harry exclusively revealed how the Invictus Games has inspired him. The adaptive sports competition takes its motto "I am" from the famous William Ernest Henley poem, which includes the lines, "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."
For Harry, "the poem is a reminder that you have the power to take control of your life," he told PEOPLE.
"When I was in the Army, I promised myself I would be out before having a wife and kids, because I couldn't imagine the heartache of being apart for so long during deployment, the risk of possibly getting injured, and the reality that my family's lives could be changed forever if that happened,” he told PEOPLE.
“Every member of the Invictus community has experienced varying degrees of these things. I have tremendous respect for what they and their families sacrifice in the name of service."
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Read the original article on People.