Prince Harry gave an empowering five-minute speech at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games on Saturday September 16, when he reminded his audience not to “judge people on their past pain”.
He said it was important to consider those we encounter as who they are now, rather than anything they may have done in the past.
This is an especially pertinent message coming from the Duke, who has left behind his royal life in the UK to start a new life of independence in California with his wife Meghan Markle and their children.
His speech paid particular tribute to the veterans and competitors, as he said: “Your mission to heal and grow has been a shining example to us all.
“You’ve shown us the power in not defining people by assumption, their backstory or past pain, but rather instead on their ability, how they show up, and who they are in the present.”
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He added: “I’m sure you’re all physically exhausted. But I hope you are mentally stronger than when you arrived. We may have provided the platform, but you provided the magic, and don’t you ever forget that.
“Tomorrow you will each walk away with memories that are different and unique to you.
“But my hope is that every memory made brings a smile to your face through a sense of belonging, and an opportunity for you and your family to look forward, with pride and with purpose.”
The Prince explained: “While we were chatting, I noticed bagpipes lying on the floor in the far corner. Some of you may know what bagpipes mean to me, so I couldn’t help but hope they’d be played!
“Little did I know that 30 minutes later, it would be James picking them up and offering to play – yet I had no idea what they meant to him. Nor did I know what memories they triggered for him.”
Major Corporal Gendron told Harry how he had played the bagpipes during his time serving in Afghanistan at 63 ramp ceremonies, the memorial service held for a fallen soldier at the airport before the body is flown home.
Harry then revealed: “For four years after that last ceremony, he couldn’t touch them. This week he wasn’t sure whether he could bring himself to play them. But he did. What had once haunted him – dare I say it – may now be what helps heal him.”