Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had a rare black-tie date night in New York City this evening at the Salute to Freedom Gala. And while press photographers captured the couple’s arrival to the Intrepid Museum for the event, the couple’s non-profit Archewell just shared intimate photos taken by Lee Morgan that showcase the two’s dynamic inside. Meghan and Harry are almost always holding hands in the photos taken of them. (Meghan, by the way, is in a stunning Carolina Herrera gown.)
Harry gave a speech at the gala, where he touched on his military experience and time spent in the U.S. (Meghan and Harry moved to California in 2020 after stepping back from their senior royal family roles.)
Thank you, Ken, for the kind introduction—My wife and I are so grateful for your ongoing partnership and we all deeply appreciate Fisher House’s longstanding commitment to military families. On any given night, 1000 families are sleeping at a Fisher House. It’s no exaggeration to say that your services are quite literally keeping families together when they need it most—so thank you!
Thank you, as well, to the Intrepid Museum for providing a community hub for those who have served, and to all the individuals and organizations here tonight who are dedicated to wrapping a sense of support around servicemembers after they leave their posts. Those who serve and who have served offer so much to their communities, the wider public, and to the private sector. As far as I’m concerned, they never abandon their commitments and ethics, because the values and principles of service are ingrained in every single one of them, and any business would be lucky to have them.
Tonight, we are here to honor a group of men and women whose lives are defined by service, purpose and resilience. This night is about [the honorees].
As many of us see it, service isn’t loud. Service is what happens in the quiet and when people aren’t looking. It’s about how we take care of each other every day. It’s about the camaraderie we share…the laughs, the comfort, the pain, the challenge, and yes, the banter.
Throughout my time in the military and after, I recognized and understood that for many who have served or are still serving—it might not feel right to stand out amongst the team and be recognized. But you deserve to be—and tonight, whether you like it or not, that is what’s happening. So, soak it up!
I’d also like to speak briefly about something else that, until recently, has existed in the darkness: the invisible wounds that we are all susceptible to. The scars on the inside that no one sees. For too long, invisible injuries were treated as just that—invisible—and were destined to be swept under the rug at the risk of shame, guilt, or just a lack of understanding.
Yet we now know that the mind is just like a muscle. It experiences trauma and pain, whether in conflict or at home, whether in uniform or not. It needs training…as well as recovery and care, no matter who you are and no matter what you do. Our physical health and mental health are one in the same, and just as much as we aspire to be physically fit, so too we need to be mentally fit. That’s a belief I held when we pioneered HeadFit, a first-of-its-kind resource for servicemembers and those working across UK Defence, to train their minds just like they do their bodies. That’s how we get to ultimate human performance and unlock unknown potential in every single one of us. It is a belief I still hold as I work to increase access to mental fitness tools for all people across the world with the online coaching platform BetterUp.
Many of us in this room understand why servicemembers often feel isolated after they come home or once they leave the forces. Wouldn’t you? For years, we (and our families) orient our entire lives around the mission, the duty, the commitment, and yes—the hurry up and wait. And when we return, we long for the same feelings and contributions: self-purpose, focus, service to others, and being part of a team.
I’ve lived in the US for close to two years now. I have to say, witnessing your support for all those that put themselves in harm’s way in defense of our freedoms and liberties—it’s remarkable and hugely respected. It reminds me of the deep reverence us Brits have for our military as well. The armed forces communities in both our countries share a special bond, and I’m grateful to have served in support of our joint allyship for many years.
As we honor and reflect on Remembrance Day in the UK, which shares a date tomorrow with Veterans Day here in the US, my hope is for all of us to continue to support the wellbeing (and recognize the value of) our troops, veterans, and the entire military and service family. We and they are better for it.
I served 10-years in the military, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan—one as an FAC on the ground and in the dust with some of you, another as an Apache helicopter pilot in the air supporting and talking with you. Nothing was more valuable than the time I got to spend with my soldiers in a shell scrape, eating an MRE in the back of a tank (thanks for the swaps), flying a mission overhead knowing those below were safer, or making each other laugh when it was needed the most. My experience in the military made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with—wherever in the world we were.
But in war, you also see and experience things you hope no one else has to. These stay with us, sometimes like a slideshow of images.
That’s why I created the Invictus Games. Not only to honor the legacy of those who have given so much, but to show everyone else what we know: that the men and women who have experienced service injuries, as well as their families, are the strongest people in the world…and they deserve a platform to be seen, a platform to be recognized, and a platform to be truly celebrated.
By doing this, we can continue to be inspired by their resilience and humility.
In that same vein, tonight I am proud to be presenting the 2021 Intrepid Valor Award to the strongest people aboard this ship.
You have experienced, seen, and dealt with things that few have had to—though the crises we are increasingly experiencing as communities are not only felt by those in the military world, but by everyone.
Nevertheless, you are part of an everlasting bond. You are part of the team of teams. And we will always have your backs. You are not alone.
Now let’s hear their stories. Please welcome our honorees, one by one, to the stage.
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