Whirlwind trip: Prince Harry travels to Washington to promote 2016 Invictus Games
WASHINGTON — “All right ladies … Prince Harry is here! Don’t look like you don’t notice!” That’s how an enthusiastic First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the blushing bearded royal’s whirlwind trip to the United States Wednesday, which included an informal meeting with President Barack Obama and a trip to the British Embassy.
Harry traveled Washington to promote the 2016 Invictus Games, an international sporting competition for wounded servicemen set to take place in Florida next year.
“I guess I should apologize in advance for all the gold medals that America will win in Orlando,” the first lady teased, addressing a crowd of veterans and their families gathered in the sports hall of Fort Belvoir.
The prince, who served in Afghanistan, toured the Virginia base alongside the first lady and Jill Biden. While there he observed programs that aim to help with recovery, including art and music therapy, before watching a wheelchair basketball game.
Harry, 31, told the service members there that his deployments deeply impacted him.
“I’m in no doubt that my two deployments to Afghanistan changed the direction of my life. There is very little that can truly prepare you for the reality of war,” the prince said. “The experiences can be stark and long-lasting. ”
Harry said that he realized he had a responsibility to help veterans “lead healthy and dignified lives after service” while he was traveling home from his first deployment Afghanistan with three critically injured British soldiers. He started the international Invictus Games last year in London after a visit to the American Warrior Games in Colorado sparked the idea.
“I saw the power that sport could play in the recovery of both mind and body — I thought that surely everyone whether connected to the armed forces or not would be inspired by their achievements,” he said.
Later in the afternoon Obama praised Harry’s work with veterans and thanked him for his service in Afghanistan, using the moment to highlight “the incredible bond” shared between the U.S. and U.K.
Harry’s trip to Washington Wednesday was decidedly less exciting than his 2013 visit, when dozens of female staffers gathered in the U.S. Capitol’s Russell Rotunda, defying Capitol police while screaming and attempting to take photos of the royal bachelor.