After a long day in the sunshine, I was strolling back to my hotel when I had to do a double take because, yes, there were Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, wandering the cobbled streets of Dusseldorf after his birthday dinner on Thursday evening.
The royal couple and their Archewell family were out celebrating the Duke’s big day just minutes away from where I had been staying in the heart of the city. I could not believe my eyes when they strolled past – I mean the police officers were a bit of a giveaway, but colour me shocked with a capital ‘s’.
I then discovered the location of the fun get-together which was ‘Im Goldenen Kessel’, part of the Brauerei Schumacher. There, I met the owner Thea Ungermann, and waiter Frank Wackers who served the Duke and Duchess’ table.
Thea was completely overwhelmed by the special visit and told me: “The couple were very relaxed, they drank our beer, Schumacher Alt – it’s the same beer they are serving at the Invictus Games. Harry and Meghan sat next to each other during the meal.
“I had goosebumps when they walked into the restaurant, I had watched his speech on the stage at the Invictus Games and couldn’t believe he was in my restaurant. Prince Harry was so lovely and gave me a hug.”
The duo were in incredibly high spirits, maybe because of the couple’s hefty tip, or maybe because of the plate of shot glasses filled with an alcoholic delicacy they brought me whilst we chatted.
The joyful end to day six was the cherry on top of an action-packed slew of events at the arena. Meghan and Harry were well received by everyone they met, kicking the day off with a private NATO meeting, before heading to watch some sports.
They were back watching team Nigeria, who were battling out against the Ukrainian team at sitting-down Volleyball. Meghan then had to rush over to the second court, where she comforted Tito Wesser, a German player who sadly couldn’t continue in the competition due to slipping over on the court.
I also caught up with James Roger, 37, who is this year’s UK team captain. He opened up about having the Duke and Duchess’ support.
He told me: “We had a meeting with the Duke the other day at the beginning of the Games. It was a morale-booster for the team. We got to meet them all. We got to chat to them all. It was really, really positive. Everyone came away from that absolutely ready for the Games. He was saying good luck to us.”
“We are an Invictus family,” James added. “We’re there to support one another through thick and thin.”
On how it feels to have Harry and Meghan’s support, he continued: “It’s brilliant they’ve come along to support. This event is about the people that are here. We’re here together. Him coming along to show his support really brings the atmosphere up.”