Prince Harry seemingly referenced his own journey in military uniform while closing out the 2023 Invictus Games.
Harry, 38, celebrated the “magic” of the sports tournament on its final night in Düsseldorf, Germany, on Saturday, September 16, addressing participants and their families in a rousing speech. “You will never truly know the impact that your actions this week have had on millions of people around the world,” Harry told the crowd.
Meghan Markle watched her husband proudly from the audience as he praised the veterans involved in the Games — many of whom were wounded while serving their countries — for their “vulnerability” and “resilience.” The duke proceeded to send a poignant reminder about what it means to represent one’s country.
“A week ago, I stood here and told you about the significance of being able to wear your nation’s flag again. And so many of you have told me that hit you right here,” Harry said, gesturing to his heart. “For many of you, the uniform that you’ve been wearing this past week will give you a new story to tell. And for others, it may give your old uniform new meaning.”
He continued: “But I’m here to remind you that after all of this, you don’t need to rely on a uniform, nor should you ever feel lost without one. Why? Because everything you need is already within you.”
Harry’s message may have also acted as a reminder to himself. He served in the British Army for 10 years, completing two tours in Afghanistan before resigning from the military in 2015. (Harry cofounded the Invictus Games one year prior.)
After he and Meghan, 42, announced in January 2020 that they were stepping down from their senior royal duties, Harry lost his three honorary military titles: Captain General Royal Marines, Honorary Air Commandant of RAF Honington and Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving.
Tension arose in September 2022 when Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Andrew would be allowed to wear his military uniform to the late Queen Elizabeth II‘s funeral that month — but Harry was not granted the same exception. (Andrew, 63, was stripped of his military titles and royal patronages due to his alleged ties to Jeffrey Epstein and sexual assault claims by Virginia Roberts Giuffre.)
A spokesperson for Harry reacted to the dress code in a statement at the time, noting, “His decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears and we respectfully ask that focus remain on the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”
The palace later indicated that Harry would be able to wear his uniform to the queen’s final vigil, which took place days before her state funeral. He donned a morning suit for the funeral itself, walking with King Charles III and Prince William in the procession. A source exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the service that Harry “has come to terms with not wearing” his military garb since his royal exit.
“Whilst that’s disappointing in some senses, he’s just grateful to be present and honoring the queen. At the end of the day, it’s only a uniform,” the insider added.
For his father’s coronation in May, Harry once again opted for a morning suit. Royal expert Christopher Andersen hinted that the decision surrounding Harry’s uniform may have done “a lot of damage” to his chances of reconciling with Charles, 73.