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Friday, September 22, 2023

‘Emotions Were Visible From the Start’

The Invictus Games have come and gone, and so has Prince Harry’s closing ceremony speech. After his remarks at the start of the international sporting competition for wounded veterans, the Duke of Sussex once again took the stage. According to a body language expert, Harry took a “low-key” approach to his simultaneously “emotional” closing ceremony speech. 

Prince Harry’s closing ceremony speech at the Invictus Games 

Prince Harry holds a microphone during his closing ceremony speech at the Invictus Games on Sept. 16, 2023.
Prince Harry | Karwai Tang/WireImage

On Sept. 16, 2023, Harry spoke at the games’ final event in Düsseldorf, Germany, the closing ceremony. The duke, a 10-year military veteran himself, took the stage where he talked of the impact athletes made during the seven-day competition, which he founded in 2014. 

To start, Harry said a few words in German, telling the audience how inspiring competitors are to people worldwide. “We’ve all witnessed the true impact sport has had on your recovery,” he said. “But you will never truly know the impact your actions this week have had on millions of people around the world. You have opened people’s hearts through your vulnerability, through your resilience, and your sheer abilities. You have shown us that joy can emerge from struggle.”

Harry went on to mention a touching moment where an athlete played the “haunting” bagpipes for him. Other memorable moments in his closing ceremony speech included a comment about not having to “rely on a uniform.” Since then, the remark’s been reported by some as a dig after the royal family barred Harry from wearing his uniform.

Harry’s ‘inner emotions’ were ‘visible’ during closing ceremony speech at the Invictus Games

Prince Harry touches his hand to his mouth during his Invictus Games closing ceremony speech
Prince Harry | Karwai Tang/WireImage

The duke, who previously mentioned his nervousness surrounding public speaking, emotions were just below the surface and sometimes “visible” during his closing ceremony speech.

“It was very telling of Harry’s inner emotions during this closing ceremony that he appeared to have written a rather lecturing, hard-hitting speech to his audience, which he tried to deliver with the pacing, fist-waggling, finger-pointing style of a military leader,” Judi James, a body language expert, told The Mirror

In contrast, his “body language told a different story as his emotions leaked out and at times took over. At one point he appeared tearful when he stopped speaking and wiped his mouth with his hand.”

“These emotions were visible from the start when some non-stop lip-licking and lip-clamping looked like a sure sign of pressure or nerves,” James continued. 

 Harry’s “pointing and pacing,” which alone would’ve “looked like a show of strength,” coupled with “a hugging of the mic with both hands and some ear-scratching,” signaled “self-comfort or self-distraction.” 

Harry’s “body language veered between leadership and humility and one of his only smiles came after he spoke in German for a couple of phrases,” James noted, highlighting the 39-year-old’s typically more humorous approach. 

“Unlike his usual style, there were no jokes, no banter, no show-boating, and no love-story-style references to his wife or his family,” the expert said. 

‘Low-key’ Prince Harry took the stage without fanfare at the Invictus Games closing ceremony

Meghan Markle didn’t do the introduction before Harry got underway with this closing ceremony speech as she did in 2022. The two memorably shared an onstage kiss at the opening ceremony of the games in The Netherlands. However, this time, the Duchess of Sussex remained in the crowd as Harry spoke to the audience. 

“Her facial expression said it all as she watched his emotional speech on stage, clapping and smiling up at him and clearly egging him on proudly,” James said, noting Meghan’s “pose of solid support.” 

As for Harry’s speech, it was all about being “spontaneous” and “low-key,” according to James. “He almost snuck on while a Ukrainian competitor was being interviewed, surprising the presenter who was presumably expecting to give him a huge build-up,” she said. 

Harry, whose “emotions looked strong,” appeared to be “projecting a more low-key profile with gestures and poses of humility, even sitting with his hands between his legs and his head bowed as he was called out from the stage.”

Next, the Invictus Games head to Canada with Whistler, British Columbia, hosting in February 2025. In the meantime, Harry’s Heart of Invictus docuseries, which follows athletes on their way to the 2022 competition, is streaming on Netflix. 

Showbiz Cheat Sheet acknowledges conditions and cultures can impact body language and is sensitive to all backgrounds.

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