Prince Harry is a man on a mission, but this morning, instead of fighting for his country on the battlefield he’s fighting to raise awareness for our wounded heroes.
The 29-year-old Prince spoke to BBC Radio 2 Anchor Chris Evans this morning about the upcoming Invictus Games which he has spearheaded.
“These guys are a credit to the country so this gives them a chance to come out and inspire others around them,” Harry told listeners about the wounded service members the Games support.
The games, taking place at London’s Olympic Park from September 10-14, will showcase injured service men and women from 14 countries competing in everything from cycling, wheelchair basketball and rugby to sitting volleyball and swimming.
When asked by Evans if he came up with the idea for the Games himself, Harry admitted he borrowed a little from the U.S.A.
"Happy to steal it off the Americans,” Prince Harry joked. “Americans have had the Warrior Games now for the last four-and-a-half, five years.”
“We went over there, I had a team of 30 U.K. guys that joined in with the Americans and basically saw this event take place and decided that it was such a wonderful concept we should steal it, make it bigger, make it better and bring it back home,” Harry said, referring to his 2013 trip with British service members to the Colorado Warrior Games.
Invictus means “unconquered” and Prince Harry hopes the games will help motivate those who fought together and are now working to overcome their injuries.
“The point of them is to basically use the power of sport to help these guys through the rehabilitation,” Harry said. “It’s basically a pathway to allow the wounded, injured and sick communities within the U.K. - and across the board as well because we’ve got 14 nations coming to it – giving them a pathway back into employment.”
“We’ve got Ellie Goulding, James Blunt and numerous other people, some of which I’m not allowed to mention,” Prince Harry shared. “So the concert itself will be fantastic and, as I said earlier, a real chance to come and celebrate and cheer on these guys as they’re going to be a part of the concert.”
The cause of helping wounded soldiers is one close to Harry’s heart. He joined the British Army in May 2005 and rose to the rank of Apache helicopter commander in July after three years of training. The British Defense Ministry named Harry the best front-seat pilot, or co-pilot gunner, in February 2012 from his class of more than 20 fellow Apache helicopter pilots.
The prince returned to England in January 2013 from a five-month deployment to Afghanistan with the Royal Air Force’s 662 Squadron of the Army Air Corps, where he served as an Apache co-pilot gunner.
Harry said today that he hopes the Invictus Games will be an ongoing event.
“This is definitely going to be a regular event,” he told Evans. “We’re still trying to work out whether we do it next year or the year after and whether it’s going to be within the U.K. or whether it’s going to be abroad.”
“But the legacy has already started and if we can use it as a stepping stone for some of these individuals to move onto the Paralympics, great,” Harry added. “If some of them want to use it as a one-off to get themselves back on the road and then as a stepping stone to employment, then just as good."
"We will use the Invictus Games for as long as it’s needed.”