Prince Harry has had a thrilling and emotional week at the Invictus Games and as the event drew to a close, the Duke of Sussex gave a speech where he surprisingly made a small reference to a significant part of his past royal life.
Harry shared an emotional moment from his time at the Invictus 2025 tent, hosted by the Canadian team, when he spoke with Master Corporal James Gendron, with the Prince noticing a set of bagpipes in the corner of the tent.
“Some of you may know what bagpipes mean to me, so I couldn’t help but hope they’d be played!” he said in the speech.
Bagpipes were a favourite instrument of the late Queen, Harry’s grandmother, with the Duke sharing in his memoir, Spare, that she loved to be awoken to the sound of the instrument, and that it should also play as she settled in for dinner.
King Charles is also awoken to the sound of bagpipes when he stays in his royal residences. Last October, a month after the late Queen’s death, Charles shared a moving video of his piper playing for him for the first at his royal residence in London.
Harry went on to say that the instrument had a particularly poignant connection for the Master Corporal, as he shared: “Little did I know that thirty minutes later, it would be James picking them up and offering to play – yet I had NO idea what they meant to him. Nor did I know what memories they triggered for him. In Afghanistan he played 63 ramp ceremonies. For 63 caskets. For 63 souls. For 63 families.
“For four years after that last ceremony, he couldn’t touch them. This week he wasn’t sure whether he could bring himself to PLAY them. But he did. What had once haunted him, dare I say it, may now be what helps heal him.”
In the past, Prince Harry has opened up about the sad memories that are attached to bagpipes.
Writing in Spare about his mother Princess Diana’s death, he shared: “With bagpipes it’s not the tune, it’s the tone. Thousands of years old, bagpipes are built to amplify what’s already in the heart. If you’re feeling silly, bagpipes make you sillier.
“If you’re angry, bagpipes bring your blood to a higher boil. And if you’re in grief, even if you’re twelve years old and don’t know you’re in grief, maybe especially if you don’t know, bagpipes can drive you mad.”
Saturday’s Closing Ceremony follows an incredibly exciting day for Harry, who marked his 39th birthday on Friday.
Assembled crowds in the stadium were led in a chorus of Happy Birthday, with even Harry’s wife, Meghan, joining in. The Duke took it all in good nature, jokingly placing his head in his hands and jabbing his finger at the event organisers who began the singing.
Harry was then treated to the song being sung in German as he approached the field. As the singing finished crowds shouted out ‘speech’, although the Prince didn’t oblige on this occasion.
Harry and his wife will join be returning back to Los Angeles where they will reunite with their children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.
During their time at the Games, both Harry and Meghan have spoken about their children, sharing their hopes they would attend future games.