Meghan praises Invictus family
The Duchess of Sussex has paid tribute to the thousands of family members and friends who have supported 500 wounded and ill defence veterans at the Invictus Games.
Meghan, wearing a khaki halter neck dress and red poppy, said she was proud to be in Sydney supporting the games set up by husband Prince Harry.
She said the games displayed some of the "best athleticism and sportsmanship" as she expressed her thanks for being welcomed into the "Invictus family".
Meghan told of how in the years before she met Harry she had travelled to meet troops in countries such as Afghanistan and shared in their longing for their support network back home of friends and family.
"I have been reminded of those memories here," Meghan told the Invictus Games closing ceremony on Saturday.
"During this year's games in Sydney I have witnessed the most amazing support networks that surrounds competitors."
The duchess also noted how one of the US team members in Sydney, Ryan Novak from Chicago, despite being paralysed from the waist down had been able to defy doctors who thought he would never walk again.
In Sydney he competed in sailing, swimming and athletics.
Meghan grinned as she recalled how she would "never forget" how Ryan had leapt "with dexterity and ease" into a dinghy carrying her and Harry as they watched the sailing contest on Sydney Harbour last Sunday.
The duchess said she knew how important it had been for him to achieve what he had thanks to his family's support.
"The support system on the ground here at Invictus is unlike any other. It's not just cheering on your own but realising that your own becomes everyone in the Invictus family," Meghan said.
Earlier Meghan and Harry clapped and cheered along with the 12,000-strong crowd at the Qudos Bank Arena to deliver a rousing reception for competitors as they marched in to tunes including Aretha Franklin's Respect and Cold Chisel's Khe Sanh.
The royals were in a VIP section giving them a bird's eye view of the parade, followed by Colin Hay's rendition of his band Men at Work's classic 80s hit Land Down Under.
NSW Governor-General David Hurley drew huge applause by praising Harry for making "three wise decisions" – marrying Meghan, bringing the Invictus Games to Sydney and creating the games to support wounded and ill defence veterans.
He also paid tribute to the Invictus competitors.
"You have left a lasting impression in Sydney. You have become the captains of our souls," he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian led a standing ovation for the Invictus volunteers and said she hoped Sydney could one day host the Games again.
Two athletes were singled out for remarkable performances.
New Zealand's George Nepata picked up the Jaguar Exceptional Performance Award for his inspirational efforts on the wheelchair rugby court when his team was a member down during a match against Australia.
In the closing moments of the game, Australian competitors passed him the ball to make sure he could score the final try.
Edwin Vermetten of the Netherlands also took out the Land Rover Above and Beyond Award for the help he gave a British competitor who suffers from PTSD and became distressed by a helicopter flying over Olympic Park.
Mr Vermetten sang the hit song from Frozen, Let it Go, to help calm Paul Guest.
Australian Associated Press