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Invictus Games: Prince Harry says ‘lives will change’ in speech at triumphant opening ceremony

21:15 10 September 2014

From left: The Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry during the opening ceremony of The Invictus Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

From left: The Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry during the opening ceremony of The Invictus Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The Invictus Games opened with a triumphant ceremony at the former Olympic Park this evening.

Cadets mark out the I AM insignia on the parade ground. Picture: Jonathon Brady/PA WireCadets mark out the I AM insignia on the parade ground. Picture: Jonathon Brady/PA Wire

A visibly moved Prince Harry was joined by officials and dignitaries including Prince William, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prime Minister David Cameron throughout the hour-long ceremony.

Absent from the royal roster was the Duchess of Cambridge who had to pull out due to morning sickness brought on by her recently announced pregnancy.

The opening ceremony marks the official start of the four-day tournament for wounded, sick or injured serving and former military personnel with competition set to start tomorrow.

Prince Harry met with rapturous applause as he stood to address the athletes and thousands of spectators in the make-shift arena at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Members of the British team make their entrance to rapturous applause. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA WireMembers of the British team make their entrance to rapturous applause. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

“You can be sure that everyone who takes part on the track, pool or field of play will be giving their all and I have no doubt that lives will be changed this weekend,” he said.

“I can only begin to imagine how challenging the journey of recovery has is, but the admiration I have for these men and women to move beyond their injuries is limitless.”

Performances on the night came from filmstar Idris Elba, classical singer Laura Wright and the Kings Troop Royal Artillery with flyovers by the Red Arrows and Apache and Merlin helicopters.

It was also the first live performance of the Invictus Games anthem, adapted by Coldplay’s Chris Martin from the poem Invictus by William E Henley that has become an integral part of the Games’ philosophy and branding.

Idris Elba reads Invictus, by poet William E Henley. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WireIdris Elba reads Invictus, by poet William E Henley. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The parade of teams, led by Afghanistan, received a standing ovation with the loudest cheers saved for the home team.

Team Great Britain is the largest British Military sports team of its kind ever assembled, it was revealed.

In a speech, Keith Mills, chairman of the Invictus Games, said: “Over the next few days we will experience some fantastic sport and some extraordinary competitions that will give is a show we have never seen before.

“Preparing for any major sports competition is very tough but the journey that these guys have travelled in the months and years to simply be here tonight is amazing.”

Members of the New Zealand arrive in the make-shift parade ground. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA WireMembers of the New Zealand arrive in the make-shift parade ground. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Athletics is the first major event in the tournament and will get underway tomorrow from 2pm at Lee Valley Athletics Centre.

Check our website for regular updates on the Invictus Games and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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