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A speech by Prince Harry at the Closing Ceremony of the Invictus Games, London, 2014

Published 14 September 2014

These games have shown the very best of the human spirit.

The Duke of Sussex

Good evening London.

I have a short message from The Queen:

"At this closing ceremony of the inaugural Invictus Games, Prince Philip and I send our heartfelt congratulations to the organisers and supporters of this competition, and most importantly to you men and women of the Armed Forces who have overcome great adversity just to take part in these Games.

As I have followed the competition over the past four days, I have been deeply moved by your courage, determination and talent. All of you have used the power of sport to enhance your own recovery and to raise wider awareness of the enormous challenges faced by wounded veterans. The success of these Games can be measured not by medals won, but by the renewed sense of purpose and confidence in your abilities that you have gained.

I send my warmest good wishes and congratulations to you all." (End of message from The Queen).

What a phenomenal few days. I know you can't wait for the Foo Fighters but bear with me; I have a long list of thank you's.

Thank you - to you all for being here this evening, to all those watching at home and to everyone who has been to watch these games. The support you have shown to all of the competitors over these past four days has been fantastic. It has helped create an experience that they will never forget. Give yourself a round of applause.

None of this would have been possible in such a short space of time without a huge amount of hard work from a great many people - donors, sponsors, volunteers, officials, I could go on. It is impossible for me to name everyone involved but I must mention Sir Keith Mills. I'm immensely grateful to him for embracing the vision and making this concept a reality. Also to the games board; in particular, Sara Donaldson, Debbie Jevans and Sir Nick Parker who have guided the project team, as they worked at 100 miles per hour, for the last 7 months. To Ed, Dominic and the rest of the project team, guys, I'm sorry for all the work but what a success, thank you.

These games have shone a spotlight on the 'unconquerable' character of Servicemen and women and their families their invictus spirit. On Wednesday evening I said the games would mark the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. All of the competitors have tonight received a participation medal for some, this is every bit as significant as the gold medals are to the winners.

These games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in. They have been about team mates choosing to cross the line together; not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys too either. These games have shown the very best of the human spirit.

Many of us here this evening have friends who paid the ultimate sacrifice and are no longer with us; we should take a moment to remember them.

And then there are others, perhaps watching at home, at an earlier stage in their recovery or for whom the challenges ahead still seem insurmountable.

We knew these games would inspire people to overcome their challenges, whether mental or physical, and try something they thought impossible. A lady called Kara emailed us about what the games has meant to her. She said: "I have struggled for ten years with auto-immune problems, but now I feel like I can start seeing myself as someone new. Up until my awareness of the Invictus Games, I was living in memories and morning for what I had lost when I got sick at 24. In my mind, my life was over and I was just waiting to be done, because I was not capable of doing or living like I used to. I'm starting to think now, that my game has just begun too."

These last four days have shown how effective sport is in recovery. It allows the mind and body to heal; but it is a means to an end, not an end in itself. So what comes next?

For many of these great people, what comes next is jobs. By definition, servicemen and women are highly skilled, well trained and motivated people. Many of those injured are young men and women, with their whole lives ahead of them. For those no longer able to serve in the Armed Forces, the future is often uncertain.

However, we should be there, ready to support them, if or when they need it. For a few this may mean long term physical and mental support, but for the majority this means fulfilling employment. Not special treatment, but to be treated as they were before injury, with respect, admiration and recognition of their considerable talent.

As the focus inevitably moves elsewhere; through the work of our Foundation, William and I will continue to draw attention to the challenges facing all those leaving the armed forces, whether wounded or not, to ensure they can do so with purpose, with hope and with confidence. They are a credit to our nation and to each nation here at these games.

Two years ago Britain hosted the most incredible Olympic and Paralympic Games. Two months ago we did it with the Commonwealth Games. And now you have done it again with the first ever Invictus Games. It's what we do and damn we do it well! And to you! Thank you for an awesome week.

I hope other cities in Britain, and indeed other countries, will look at this competition; what it has meant to those taking part, and the inspiration it has given all those watching and take up the challenge for the next Invictus Games.

I would like to end by thanking all the acts for their support by performing this evening; it now gives me great pleasure to introduce the Foo Fighters.