Harry, Meghan to make a Games of it?
Get ready for your closeup, Toronto. All eyes will be on this city next week — and it’s all thanks to Prince Harry.
The popular Royal redhead will be in town for the Invictus Games — his project and his way of honouring men and women who’ve been wounded — physically or mentally — in service to their country’s military.
All signs say Harry will use the Invictus Games as a platform to publicly say his romance with Toronto resident Meghan Markle is serious.
This will be the first time the two will officially be seen together. Media from around the world are circling, looking for the chance to grab that one big money shot of the happy couple.
It’s no secret Harry has been making flying visits to this city for more than a year as he has pursued the raven-haired American actress who has captured his heart.
Going public next week is a savvy move by Harry.
It guarantees these will become the most high-profile Invictus Games ever.
And Harry will do whatever it takes to shine the spotlight on the sacrifice and service of military men and women. It’s a cause he’s passionate about. This is the third year for the Games. Inspired by the U.S. Warrior Games, they started in London in 2014.
Last year, they moved to Orlando. Harry was on his way to Orlando when he launched the 2017 Toronto Games here.
And that’s when Harry met Meghan. Over the past year, I’ve talked to numerous Invictus athletes.
They are an extraordinary bunch. They’re people who’ve put their lives on the line in some of the most dangerous places on Earth.
Take Dr. Steve Daniel. He served his country in hotspots like Bosnia, Croatia and Afghanistan with the Royal Canadian Regiment. Ironically, a routine 2005 parachute jump in Trenton went horribly wrong and changed his life forever.
He suffered a devastating injury and will never walk again.
That horrific injury took its toll on his body and on his marriage.
It was through the healing power of sport that he got his life back on track — and he credits Harry for that.
Retired master corporal Natacha Dupuis has seen death up close — and far too personally. On patrol in Afghanistan in 2009 with the armoured corps of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, the vehicle behind the one in which Dupuis was riding hit an IED.
Two of her colleagues were killed and three others wounded.
Dupuis has suffered horrifically from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
You can’t see her wounds, but they’re all too real.
Fighting her way out of the depths of darkness, she found help with such programs as Soldier On, which helps retired and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces through participation in physical, recreational or sporting activities. Dupuis won two gold medals and a bronze at the Games in Orlando last year.
It’s all about esprit de corps, and competing with people who’ve been through similar experiences, she told me in an interview last year.
One memory epitomizes the Invictus ethos, she said. A triple amputee was competing in a swimming event.
“Everyone had finished and he was still in the middle of the pool — and going. And the crowd was going crazy. It was so emotional,” she told me.
That guy was giving his all and the crowd erupted. No matter their nationality, everyone watching at the pool was cheering him on.
Invictus is the Latin word for “unconquered.” That’s just what these men and women are.
These Games are all about the unquenchable strength of the human spirit. These are the best of Canada. The best of the world.
The people who were willing to serve — and all they ask is that their service is remembered and honoured.
One thing you hear from all the competitors is their respect for Harry: He gets it. He hasn’t forgotten. He’s an honourable man — one of their own — who won’t let them be forgotten.
And the athletes are winners. Every one of them.
Retired master corporal Natacha Dupuis, co-captain of the 2017 Invictus Games Team Canada.
MARKLE & PRINCE HARRY