Friday, 15 April 2022

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Kick Off Invictus Games Events in the Hague!

Are you ready for the Invictus Games?

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It all kicks off tomorrow with a week of sporting achievement, resilience, courage, comraderies and the gathering of a global community of veterans. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are in the Netherlands and made their first official public appearance today!

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The couple's schedule and attendance has been kept very much under wraps. Yesterday, the first announcement on their programme was shared. It follows news Prince Harry will be at the Hague for the duration of the games, with Meghan joining for the first few days (my guess is Monday or Tuesday).

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It's been a busy couple of days for the couple who made an under the radar whistlestop visit back to Windsor -- their first joint visit to England in two years.

The Duke and Duchess spent time with the Queen and Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall who represented the Queen at the annual Royal Maundy service.

In fact, it was during the Royal Maundy service Harry and Meghan were spotted, presumably walking from their Windsor home Frogmore Cottage over to see the Queen at Windsor Castle, by a coach filled with guests for the annual pre-Easter event, which sees Maundy coins given to pensions for service to the community. It was reported the group on the coach waved and smiled and the couple waved back. One person said Harry and Meghan looked "happy and relaxed" and "waved to everyone on the bus". The service was held at St George's Chapel, where Harry and Meghan were married almost four years ago.

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There are varying reports on the precise details. It's been suggested they arrived Tuesday and likely spent the night at Frogmore Cottage where Princess Eugenie and her family are staying. It's understood they left yesterday afternoon to travel to the Netherlands. In quite the feat, the couple managed to enter and leave unnoticed without leaks hindering the trip. Senior royal aides were not informed about the visit given the history of rampant briefings to the media. I would imagine the goal in particular was to spend time with the Queen whose health has very sadly been in decline in recent months with the minimum of fuss. Thankfully, and perhaps in a first, we didn't see the chaotic leaks or press situations which had become par for the course.

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For the Sussexes' first official public event, it was a very fitting reception with competitors, family and friends.

The couple were welcomed by the Hague's Mayor Jan van Zanen and the chairman of Invictus 2022 Mart de Kruif.

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Warm greetings and hugs.

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A video from Omid Scobie.

Another view shared by Team Australia. The event was hosted by the City of the Hague and the Dutch Ministry of Defence.

Harry and Meghan were escorted by Team Netherlands.

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Meghan meeting competitors, it looked like a wonderful event.

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Crowds gathered outside.

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A sea of cameras.

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A terrific photo by Chris Jackson.

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It was a chilly evening, so Meghan gave her coat to a competitor to keep her newborn warm.

United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten arriving. Pete served for seven years as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, taking a leave of absence from the mayor’s office for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.

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They are all undoubtedly incredibly excited for it all to begin tomorrow.

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No one is more excited than this man...

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Like countless events all over the world, the road to Invictus has been longer than anyone anticipated with a two year delay due to the pandemic. It's been lovely to catch up on social media and see the send-offs participating countries gave their athletes.

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A peek inside from competitor Gillian.

Team Australia had a special present for Harry - a pair of budgie smugglers :)

The Ambassador for the Australian Embassy in the Netherlands Matthew Neuhaus shared this behind-the-scenes moment. 

A group shot with Team Romania.

This one from Eric, a member of Team Belgium, is in strong competition for photo of the day.

Take a quick tour of the Hague, the permanent home of the United Nations' International Court of Justice, and host to the Invictus Games.

We will be fortunate enough to hear amazing personal stories throughout the week. I wanted to start my coverage on the blog by highlighting the Ukraine team -- a group who, in the midst of unimaginable tragedy, will be supported by the Invictus community every step of the way.

They arrived safely in the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Of course, the Duke and Duchess wanted to begin their time in the Netherlands by meeting Team Ukraine. Before the reception, they spent time with the team, their family and friends.

The event was hosted by The Hague's US Embassy and the couple also had the opportunity to spend time with Team US.


Team US shared more about their enduring relationship with Team Ukraine:
'Throughout their enduring relationship, Team US and Team Ukraine have trained, competed, and worked together for several years to enhance their adaptive sporting programs to aid in the recovery of wounded, ill, and injured military members. In January 2020, Team US athletes and coaches traveled to Ukraine to share their stories, conduct training, and provide wheelchair basketball equipment to support Team Ukraine's adaptive sports program. Since then, the two teams have supported each other's athletes and even competed in virtual adaptive sporting competitions from across the globe.

During the welcome event, Co-Captains and delegates from Team US and Team Ukraine shared their stories of resilience, determination, and recovery, illustrating the spirit of the Invictus Games, which is about much more than just sport. These international athletes, allies, friends, competitors, and companions have come together on the world stage once again in solidarity and support of each other.'
You'll notice Harry is holding a Come Back Alive calendar. The non-profit organisation is supporting Team Ukraine and assisted them on their journey to Invictus.


Invictus is a family, and every other team, their families and supporters were thrilled they were able to be there.

Welcomed by Team Australia.

Very sadly they arrived an incomplete team -- missing four members who lost their lives. More from Huffington Post:
'Tragically, four members of Ukraine’s Invictus community have died in the invasions: Serhii Karajvan, Dmytro Oliynyk, Vladimir Motelchuk and Sergey Smilin.

“All were Warrior Games trialists and competitors, and whilst they were not preparing for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, they were all extremely active in the international Invictus community on the We Are Invictus platform,” the Invictus Games Foundation said on its website earlier this month. “Competing in events over the past year including the virtual London Marathon, and online Rowing championships.”

At the time, it wasn’t known whether Team Ukraine would be competing virtually or in person, which is what makes Wednesday’s news so important.'

Serhii, Dmytro, Vladimir, Sergey and all who have so tragically lost their lives during this atrocity will be at the forefront of everyone's minds in the coming days.

More from Harper's Bazaar:

'Following the death of Serhii Karajvan, Team Ukraine manager Oksana Horbach, said they will dedicate their win to friends lost. "When we win, we will celebrate his life, talk about him, and his sense of humor, professionalism, patriotism, and sports endeavors," she said on March 16. "And we will hug and cry and laugh because the memories of him bring joy and happiness. Please do not think of him as a martyr, he would not like it. Think of him as a celebrated Invictus Games community member, hero and defender of Ukrainian people.”

This year’s Invictus Games were originally due to take place in 2020, but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.'

In a deeply heartening moment for the team, President Zelensky, a man we've all come to admire, spoke to them via video call. He told the team "To win every day and everywhere is important for us today. We are proud that, at this time, you represent our country. You are showing the rebellious spirit of the Ukrainian people. Support you. Victory to you."

The Duke and Duchess with the U.S. Delegation Rory Brosius, Presidential Delegate, Donald Remy, United States Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Ms Marja Verloop, Charge d'Affaires, Gina Oritz Jones, United States Under Secretary of the Air Force, Senator Tammy Duckworth,  Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and Chasten Buttigieg. Senator Tammy Duckworth is a retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel. Tammy was the first American female double amputee from the Iraq War. She received the Purple Heart for her service.

The Duke and Duchess with Maksym Konenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Drahanchuk Inna, Deputy Minister for Veteran Affairs of Ukraine,  Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and Marja Verloop, Charge d'Affaire.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been supporting the effort to provide aid to Ukraine through Archewell and their partnerships with World Central Kitchen and the World Health Organisation. They recently made donations to HIAS, the HALO Trust, and a coalition of Ukrainian media such as the Kyiv Independent, supported through the organization Are We Europe. A statement read: "We pay tribute to the brave men and women from our global veteran community, past and present, who have long protected their countries and families with unparalleled strength and determination. We are continuing to work and speak with the Invictus Games Foundation daily to help however we can. All of us at Archewell have been inspired by the work these organizations have taken on– and also by the stories from those on the front lines."

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Yesterday, World Central Kitchen founder José Andres spoke to People about the collaboration:

"It is a blessing," says chef José Andrés, 52, founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit dedicated to feeding communities negatively impacted by humanitarian crises which partnered with Harry and Meghan's Archewell Foundation in Dec. 2020.

"I love them," he tells PEOPLE. "I have been able to spend time with them, working with them and they are very hands-on and highly knowledgeable of what's happening in the world, what the issues are, and what the needs are.

"For me, it is a pleasure to call them friends. All my life I have been trying to learn what exactly we are missing because why is there still hunger? What are we missing? We have to make the most of the opportunities of goodness, and I believe that with people like Meghan and Harry, we can make it happen."

When it comes to providing food on the ground in Ukraine, Andres told People "this is not a 100 metres, this is a marathon". They are travelling all over the country to provide a hot meal...

...and words of support and a hug. Something José knows from his visits to the country.

They have served millions of meals thus far, and hope to continue providing 300,000 across Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova and Hungary. We can all do our part, no matter how small. If you would like to donate to help them complete this vital work, please click here.

ITV reports:

''Just a few days ago, Volodymyr Musyak was on the front lines of Europe's war, defending Ukraine from Russia's devastating assault.

But today, he's getting ready to represent his country in the Invictus Games.

The athlete will participate in events including archery, but he has to prepare without his coach, Dmytro Sydoruk, who died in the war on the evening Ukraine's team was due to depart for the games.

Every killing is an "irreparable loss", Mr Musyak said.

“I think that emotionally it’s something that requires time... as we come from the areas where the actual killings every day are happening, the shelling, the bombing, we hear sirens every day," said team manager Oksana Pashkevych.'

Oksana Horbach, the Ukrainian team manager spoke about meeting the couple.

The Evening Standard reports:

'Ms Horbach told the PA news agency: “I spoke with Meghan about the importance of having a voice and she totally understood that – be heard, be vocal, have a voice, just tell your own truth, your experience. It’s very important to her.

“And she told me that it is something that they support profoundly, with full heart, to have this platform, Invictus Games platform, for the nations, especially for Ukraine, to be able to have that voice.

“And Prince Harry says that he totally supports Ukraine and he says that during the next day we will feel how much support there is to give by Invictus Games community and that he totally supports Ukrainian people in this fight.”

I know the ongoing conflict and heartbreaking loss of life will be at the forefront of Harry and Meghan's minds -- a fact I expect they'll both address during their speeches at the Opening Ceremony tomorrow.

The Duchess looked stunning in a double-breasted white trouser suit.

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With thanks to What Meghan Wore, Meghan's suit is a Valentino design. The white oversized blazer is described as "a testament to Valentino's sublime tailoring" honed since 1960. It’s crafted in Italy from twill woven with an element of wool and cut to an oversized fit with padded shoulders and figure-framing peak lapels, complete with a crepe lining to ensure a perfect drape. The piece is available at Matches Fashion

Meghan's trousers are the Valentino Pintucked Wool Tailored style

The UFO No More team suggests Meghan carried Valentino's Garavani One Stud crossbody bag. The piece is described as: "Introduced for SS22, Valentino Garavani's One Stud bag is defined by its envelope silhouette and statement Rockstud embellishment at the front, an iconic house motif. Crafted from soft leather in Italy, this accessory can be worn across the body or at the shoulder thanks to its adjustable strap". It's available at FarFetch.

The Duchess wore her chic white Aquazzura pumps. You'll remember she debuted them for her wedding reception. 

The Duchess accessorised with Diana's gold Cartier Tank watch. The piece has been a staple for Meghan over the past couple of years.

It appears the Duchess wore her Cartier Galanterie earrings - the pair she wore on her wedding day.

UFO No More also identified Meghan's Duet Pink Ring as a Shiffon design.

Meghan wore the Kitten Mitten in yellow gold by Catbird NYC.

From the limited photos I've seen, it looks like Meghan wore the diamond tennis bracelet Prince Charles gave her before the wedding. 

Meghan wore her Love pendant by Notting Hill based jeweller Sophie Lis. 10% of each sale goes directly to Wild at Heart Foundation. Wild at Heart Foundation funds animal welfare projects all over the world. By 2025 they want to rehome 10,000 dogs, neuter 100,000 dogs and educate 1,000,000 children.

A closer look at Meghan's accessories.

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Tomorrow: Harry and Meghan will attend the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge before the official Opening Ceremony. They are both expected to deliver speeches. Before that, there's rumours Meghan will have an engagement where she will read to children at The British Embassy Tent. It's also been confirmed the Duke and Duchess will attend several events on Sunday.

23 comments:

  1. Thank you for a lovely post Charlotte! I am reading it with tears in my eyes for all that TeamUkraine and all of Ukraine have suffered through. I will be cheering on all the competitors in the week to come!!! Go Invictus!!

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  2. Finally a post! Thank you! Been refreshing this page ever since I heard the first engagement was underway lol. I have no words to describe how precious Prince Harry is...what he created with Invictus is truly special and I'm glad it's providing a much needed reprieve to Team Ukraine competitors, may God bless them all. As for Duchess Meghan...I freaking missed her! She's been extra low-key ever since moving to her home country which I'm sure has allowed her to enjoy a lot of precious family time but I just wish she'd be a little more visible cause I just love her so much. It's truly great to see the Sussexes at work, they're truly special and just hit different. I wish Meghan would stay for all of the games but I'm sure the couple left the kids back home and she wants to get back to them to celebrate Easter. Meghan's outfit reminds me of what she wore for the dinner with Princess Eugenie and her husband in Santa Barbara....I wonder if it's the same outfit...Anyways looking forward to many Sussexes sightings and inspirational competitions and competitors over the next few days!

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  3. Charlotte, thank you so much for this wonderful newsy post. Harry has created something wonderful with the Invictus Games. So happy and surprised to see Ukraine team. I had read earlier that they were withdrawing to stay home and fight.
    Meghan's styling here is perfection. Have missed seeing her.

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  4. Dear Charlotte
    Thank you for this wonderful and sorely needed post! So much goodness here, beginning with the arrival of Team Ukraine. Love Jose Andres’ words. So great that M&H got into and out of England on their own terms! And they both radiate healing energy. Love the white pantsuit!
    Renee

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  5. First, I can't say how happy I was to hear that H&M visited HM privately. It warmed my heart. These days are precious as HM approaches another bday. Im sure the visit gave Harry great peace of mind as he departed. And, absolutely thrilled there was no slip of the tongue with advanced notice. I wish also that Meghan was staying longer but I am just happy that she made the trip both to the UK and to the Invictus Games. I love that she is in the latest fashion statement wearing the wide leg pants and boxy jacket pants suit looking fabulous. Has anyone else noticed that she seems to have once again redesigned her engagement ring? It now has the addition of a diamond halo around the center stone reflected at the bottom/side. This also is very popular at the moment for new brides to be.
    I am just so happy and excited for Harry!

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    1. USA Granny I can't find a clear photo showing her ring update. If you have a lead, I would love to see. Thanks

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  6. Kudos to everyone responsible for the success of this life changing event and Charlotte thank you for giving us a comprehensive write up.....I miss this lovely smile of the Sussex, on the fashion side 100%

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  7. Hurray! Great post & great cause. Pretty snazzy suit as well. So glad the couple were able to see the Queen without the media frenzy. Good luck to the Invictus competitors! -op

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    1. But the same British media are photographing them in the Hague so why not announce their programme in advance and make it easier for everyone?

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  8. A momentous achievement for Prince Harry and for everyone involved in the Invictus Games.

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  9. Thank you so much, Charlotte for your great coverage. It's wonderful to see Meghan and Harry again.

    R

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  10. Sheryl from BC Canada16 April 2022 at 03:03

    Oh Charlotte, this is excellent coverage, hitting all the bases. Thank you so much for pulling all the visits and goings on, into one package today, with all the explanations. I can't wait to see more of the games, meetings and speeches over the next week. :)

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  11. Ah yes Charlotte, we are very close 🤗! And so impatient to have other news as we waited for the return of the couple.
    I admire and encourage the fighting spirit of the Ukrainians, I am wholeheartedly with them.
    The discretion brought to the meeting of the Sussexes in the United Kingdom is perfect.
    Oh dear! I love the Sussexes so much, they are radiant and Meghan so beautiful and adorable is to die for 😍
    Thank you Charlotte for this always so enriching and beautifully written report 🙏.

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  12. I like the pants but not the oversized jacket I think it swamps Meghan’s petite frame, but a very nice look.

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  13. Love the Invictus games and love seeing the Sussexes back doing engagements and back here in Europe. They need to visit more often, we miss them. Do we know if the babies are with them? Probably not since the Duchess is hurrying back to California but the quick UK stop to see the Queen and Prince Charles made me wonder...

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  14. its nice too see duke and duchess again in public and its nice too see they reunited with the queen

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  15. Has the Syrian team travelled safely as well? I don't remember you mentioned about the people because of the war in Syria.

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  16. I love Meghan’s look here! It’s my favourite so far.

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  17. It is so good to see and to read that The D&D of Sussex are doing great. Glad all's well. They look fabulous. God bless them! Good luck to H&M and all the participants at The Games.

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  18. How lovely to see the Royal couple. Meghan looks nice, but I don't like this white suit. I realise it is the style and design for larger cut, but the jacket is too boxy, especially from the back view, not a good look. The pants are too long and baggy, the overall look seems to swamp her frame. Love her bag, gorgeous.

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  19. The Invictus Games are such a positive event and Harry and Meghan I have no doubt made it feel even more special. Great coverage Charlotte! Valentino seems to be a new favorite designer for Meghan however, the expense (of almost all Valentino designs) seems excessive. When Meghan wore the beautiful white slacks at Wimbledon, I had hoped she purchased the double-breasted jacket as well. Honestly, that look isn't far from this $5K. I agree with another poster, the suit is wearing her (slightly oversized) for her petite frame IMHO. Good luck to all of the teams and the opportunity to build a worldwide community.

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  20. It's just so good to see both of them again. She's selling that suit. It's youthful and stylish.

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  21. I am so glad to hear Harry and Meghan went to see the Queen and Prince Charles. I hope this helps heal any pain of past errors on both sides and that the Queen I am sure was so happy to see them both. Harry is so close to his grandmother I hope she feels better soon and lives for many more years. I love to see Meghan so happy and smiling and in this beautiful white outfit.

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Welcome to Mad About Meghan! We do so look forward to reading your thoughts. Constructive, fair debate is always encouraged. Hateful, derogatory terms and insults are not welcome here. This space focuses on Harry and Meghan, not any other member of the Royal family. It's not the place to discuss politics either. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your comments :)