Prince Harry and Meghan Markle smile while driving miniature Land Rovers at the Invictus Games event


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The Invictus Games kicked off on Saturday with a car obstacle course before an opening night featuring the games founder, Prince Harryand his wife Meghan Markle.

Harry founded the Invictus Games to help rehabilitate injured or ill service members and veterans, challenging them to compete in sporting events similar to the Paralympic Games. This year’s competition takes place in the Dutch city of The Hague.

Before the opening ceremony, he got close to the action when he was driven around the obstacle course. The couple later waved to onlookers as they were driven around in miniature Land Rover cars with children behind the wheel.

On Friday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as Harry and Meghan are also known, attended a welcome event for contestants, their friends and family, joining them at the event which runs until April 22 .

PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE MAKE FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE IN EUROPE SINCE RETURN AS SENIOR ROYALS

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle cheer from the touchline as they attend the Land Rover Driving Challenge at the Invictus Games.
(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Harry, who served 10 years in the British Army, has championed causes that benefit both servicemen and women. He has been involved with the charity Walking with the Wounded and the Endeavor Fund, which honors veterans. Just days after welcoming son Archie in May 2019, he traveled to the Netherlands to kick off the official countdown to the 2020 games.

It was the couple’s first public appearance in Europe since they gave up their official royal roles and moved to the United States more than two years ago.

Among the nearly 500 competitors from 20 nations taking part in the games is a team of 19 Ukrainians – many of whom are taking a brief break from defending their country against the Russian invasion that has sparked a devastating war.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend the Land Rover Driving Challenge at the Invictus Games site in The Hague, Netherlands on Saturday April 16, 2022.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend the Land Rover Driving Challenge at the Invictus Games site in The Hague, Netherlands on Saturday April 16, 2022.
(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Competitors will compete in athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby, as well as at the Saturday driving challenge organized by one of the official partners of the event, car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.

Harry and Meghan’s arrival in the Netherlands came just a day after the couple’s visit Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on their first joint visit to the UK since arriving in America.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, scream as the Romanian competitor crosses the finish line of the Land Rover Driving Challenge.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, scream as the Romanian competitor crosses the finish line of the Land Rover Driving Challenge.
(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Harry and Meghan resigned as members of the Royal Family and moved to North America in 2020, citing the unbearable pressure of their roles and the racist attitudes of the British media.

Although this is the first time the royal couple have returned to the UK together, Harry has returned twice. Almost a year ago, he returned for the funeral of his grandfather Prince Philip in April 2021, then again in July 2021 to attend the unveiling of a statue honoring his late mother, princess diana.

The visit to the Queen took place on Maundy Thursday, a day of the week before Easter which the Queen has marked for decades by distributing silver coins known as ‘holy money’ to pensioners during a service religious.

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Prince Harry helps a little girl drive a miniature Land Rover.

Prince Harry helps a little girl drive a miniature Land Rover.
(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

This year the Queen, who has had mobility issues in recent months and caught COVID-19 in February, did not attend. She was represented by her eldest son, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla.

The monarch is also expected to miss the royal family’s Easter Sunday church service. She continued to perform royal duties, including virtual audiences with politicians and diplomats.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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