Meghan Markle Gives Unexpected, Emotional Speech at Invictus Games Closing Ceremony
While her husband, Prince Harry, was scheduled to speak at the games' closing ceremony in Sydney, Australia, the Duchess of Sussex also unexpectedly took the stage to deliver a speech. Meghan thanked those who had participated in the event, before sharing her personal connection to the Invictus Games.
“It’s such an honor to be here tonight with all of you and supporting my husband at the Invictus Games, which he founded four years ago,” she said. “In a short span of time, the games have evolved into an international platform of some of the best athletics and sportsmanship you could ever witness, coupled with a camaraderie and close-knit community, which can only be defined as the Invictus spirit.”
“I’m not sure if many of you know this, but a few years ago, before I had met my husband, I had the incredible honor of visiting troops deployed all over the world, from the U.K. to Italy and Afghanistan, and several other countries,” Meghan recalled.
“In traveling to these military bases, I was given a very special glimpse into the lives of those who serve our countries. I was able to see the unshakable bonds between service men and women on the ground together, but at the same time to feel the palpable longing for family and friends while deployed,” she shared.
“In a short span of time, the #InvictusGames have evolved into an international platform of some of the best athletics and sportsmanship you could ever witness, coupled with a camaraderie which can only be defined as the Invictus spirit.” — The Duchess of Sussex #IG2018pic.twitter.com/1AxPuC1DKy— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 27, 2018
The former Suits star continued, remembering how she was particularly moved and inspired by one veteran, Ryan Novak, who excitedly hugged her and Harry last week.
“The Novak family from Chicago is a prime example of this very thing,” she noted. “When their son Ryan suffered a severe injury leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, doctors said he would never be able to walk again. But after speaking to his mom, Karri, it was clear that it was through Ryan’s strength of spirit, and with the unwavering support of his parents, that he was able to prove all of those doctors wrong.”
“Not only has Ryan competed in sailing, swimming and athletics this week, but when Harry and I saw him at the finish line of the sailing competition, he literally jumped into our boat -- with dexterity and ease, by the way -- to give both of us a hug," she shared. "Seeing Ryan’s mom on the water that day, waving a flag to cheer him on, was a moment I will never forget."
Meghan -- who rocked an olive green custom Antonio Berardi tuxedo dress with peach Casablanca pumps by Aquazzura on Saturday -- was also warmly hugged by another Invicuts competitor, Rob Hufford, who made headlines for giving Harry a huge bear hug. As Hufford told ET, he couldn't help but show the royals some love.
"[I gave him] just a big old squeeze and picked him up," Hufford explained of the moment. "He loved it! Did you see that smile?!"
The retired member of the United States Air Force confessed that Harry "definitely was a little scared" when he went in to hug Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple's first baby.
"He was like, 'Be careful!' But I knew she is pregnant, and I'm super excited for them… and a royal baby again. So I gave her a very delicate, light hug," he said.
See more on Meghan and Harry in the video below.