Prince Harry hails ‘extraordinary’ Ukraine team at Invictus Games

Some members of team Ukraine said they felt guilty to leave home, but for others, the Invictus Games have reunited families, reports ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

The Duke of Sussex has said it is “extraordinary” to have a team from Ukraine at The Invictus Games.

Harry said it is “emotional” to think about their journey to The Hague in the Netherlands for the event taking place this week, after their country was invaded by Russia.

The duke, who founded the games to aid the rehabilitation of injured or sick military personnel and veterans, was speaking during an interview which will be broadcast on the BBC on Monday evening.

Harry and Meghan's presence at the games is their first public appearance together in Europe since quitting the Royal Family more than two years ago.

The couple arrived at the Games on Friday, after they secretly jetted to the UK to visit the Queen.

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In the clip posted online by the broadcaster, Harry told presenter Alex Jones: “The whole world is definitely behind them. But again, is that enough, you know?

“Because when you get to see them and speak to them, and see in their eyes, the experiences and the things that they’ve seen just in the last few weeks, it’s really hard.”

Team Ukraine is made up of 19 competitors and they have been cheered and applauded by other nations since people started arriving at the Zuiderpark last Friday.

The couple during the Invictus Games opening ceremony Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Speaking about their journey to the games, Harry said: “It’s emotional to think that they all jumped in the bus, firstly they have to make the decision to come, which was hard enough anyway, then they jumped on the coach, probably slept all the way.

“And I think what people need to remember, or perhaps don’t even know yet, is a vast majority of the Ukraine team were serving in some shape or form.

“So they removed their uniforms, put their team strips on, jumped on the coach, came over here, slept for a couple of days, tried to decompress and then were straight into it, and then they’ve got to go back, so I think to have them here is extraordinary. And that commitment that they’ve made to leaving their country, which is a real hard thing for them to decide to do, but they came with their president’s blessing.

“And I don’t think this games could have been the games that it is without Team Ukraine.

“And of course, they’ve lost now four members of their community, and one being their archery instructor who isn’t here. He didn’t make it, killed in action. So I think it really just brings it home to what is going on across Europe right now.

“And we’ve got over 500 competitors here with varying different stories and backgrounds, but ultimately we are all together in this.”

Harry and Meghan heard how one member of the Ukrainian team lost his life in the Russian invasion and another remains missing, reported Chris Ship on Sunday

Harry said he was “struggling for 24 hours about what to say about Team Ukraine” ahead of the opening ceremony.

In a speech at the event on Saturday, Harry said: “Your bravery in choosing to come and for being here tonight cannot be overstated.

“You told me yesterday when you decided to join us despite all odds, you said you came to be on this global stage, not simply to show your strength but to tell your truth, the truth, of what is happening in your country.

“You know we stand with you. The world is united with you and still you deserve more.

“And my hope is that these events, this event, creates the opportunity in how we as a global community can better show up for you.”

Meghan also appeared on stage and said to huge applause: “Slava Ukraini!” (Glory to Ukraine).