"In the last five years, these guys have completely changed how we view disability, how we view mental health," Harry said of the athletes 

By Simon Perry
September 10, 2019 04:00 PM

Prince Harry is marking a special anniversary.

It’s been five years since the opening of his first Invictus Games — the royal’s Paralympic-style competition for veterans and serving members of the armed forces.

The Invictus Games first took place in London on September 10, 2014. And on the anniversary, Harry, 34, stepped out to attend a reception for past and present competitors and their families at The Guildhall.

“I think, in the last five years, these guys have completely changed how we view disability, how we view mental health. This is all them,” Harry said in an inspiring speech. “We merely created a platform in order for them to shine and it’s genuinely been one of the greatest honors of my life to get to know all you guys and to see you through this process. We’ve had some laughs, we’ve had some tears, and I can’t ever thank you enough for the impact that you have had across the world, to be able to create better understanding for those people who put the uniform on.”

Chris Jackson/Getty

The former Army captain listened as former competitors JJ Chalmers, from the U.K., and William Reynolds, from the U.S., shared their recovery journey post-Invictus Games. The games are similar to the U.S. Warrior Games, which was created in 2010 by the United States Department of Defense. Harry says he was inspired to create his own international event after traveling to Colorado to watch a British team compete at the games in 2013.

Prince Harry
Chris Jackson/Getty

RELATED: Prince Harry Reveals the Honest Reason for ‘One of the Worst Speeches I’ve Ever Given’

“What a huge amount has happened in five years. Medals have been won, children have been born — not mine necessarily, but JJ’s,” Harry said in his emotional speech. “But one thing that hasn’t happened is limbs haven’t grown back. But one thing I can assure you is that mental heath has completely changed with every single one of these individuals.” 

Prince Harry
James Shaw/Shutterstock

“We genuinely had no idea of the impact this was going to have,” he added. “We always knew it would great for the competitors and their families. But that ripple effect that literally swept across the globe was quite astonishing.”

Prince Harry
Chris Jackson/Getty

Although Meghan Markle wasn’t present for the celebration, Harry had sure to incorporate his wife into the event. A short highlight video that was played before the speeches included a segment of the Duchess of Sussex’s speech from the Invictus Games in Sydney last year.

  • Can’t get enough of PEOPLE’s Royals coverage? Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
Prince Harry
Chris Jackson/Getty

After the first games a year later, in which 400 competitors from 13 nations took part, they were held in Orlando, Florida, in 2016 – and next year will be held in The Netherlands.

In 2017, they took place in Toronto, Canada — when the prince took the opportunity to step out in public for the first time with then-girlfriend Meghan — and last year in Sydney, Australia, just after the couple had announced that they were expecting baby Archie.

Advertisement


EDIT POST