Prince Harry today revealed that the 2025 Invictus Games will take place in Canada in three years’ time, saying the event would take place in partnership with indigenous communities ‘in the spirit of truth and reconciliation’.
The Duke of Sussex said the Invictus Games 2025 will take place in Vancouver and nearby Whistler – which are about 1,300 miles or a three-hour flight away from his family’s £11million mansion in Montecito, California.
In a statement, Harry said today: ‘As Invictus continues to adapt and evolve, I am extremely excited to announce that the Invictus Games Foundation has selected Canada to host the first-ever Winter Hybrid Games in 2025.
‘The Invictus Games Vancouver-Whistler 2025 will offer a global platform to expand the range and profile of winter adaptive sports. With deep respect, I’m also pleased to share that the Games in Canada will be held in partnership with the First Nations, in the spirit of truth and reconciliation with indigenous communities.’
Harry’s comments could be viewed as a barb against the Commonwealth following controversy over his brother Prince William’s tour of Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas with Kate Middleton last month – where they faced protests, allegations of modern-day colonialism and renewed calls for the realms to finally become republics.
And it comes after statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II were toppled and desecrated during protests across Canada in July last year on its national day over the discovery of mass graves of indigenous schoolchildren.
In scenes reminiscent of the Black Lives Matter protests where a ‘hit list’ of ‘racist’ statues was drawn up after the murder of George Floyd, the bronze sculptures of Britain’s monarch and her great-great grandmother were hauled down in Winnipeg, daubed with red paint and even appeared to have been strangled with Mohawk flags.
Between the 18th century and the 1970s, 150,000 indigenous Canadian children were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native languages after being sent to Catholic schools.
Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died, but the policy of the Canadian Government appears to have little to do with the British Royal Family, who are ceremonial heads of state.
The Duke made the announcement of the 2025 Invictus Games location to an audience on the final day of the 2020 games in The Hague, which were delayed for two years until the past week due to the pandemic. Harry said: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Invictus is heading back to North America and this is a very, very good thing.’
The first Games were held in London in 2014, before further events in Orlando in 2016, Toronto in 2017 and Sydney in 2018. The competition will also be held in Dusseldorf in September 2023, which will be the next Games.
Harry and Meghan have also previously lived in Canada, spending the holiday season of 2019 as a family of three in 2019 with son Archie on Vancouver Island.
And Meghan previously joined Harry at the 2017 Games in Toronto, where she lived while filming Suits. They made their first public apperance together at the event.
A statement from the Invictus Games said the 2025 event will be the first to incorporate winter adaptive sports and will partner with True Patriot Love Foundation, which is Canada’s Foundation for the military community.
Officials said True Patriot Love will partner with the Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia and the First Nations – a term used to describe indigenous peoples in Canada who are not Métis or Inuit.
The Canadian Encyclopaedia states: ‘First Nations people are original inhabitants of the land that is now Canada, and were the first to encounter sustained European contact, settlement and trade.’
It said that the 2016 census by Statistics Canada found 977,230 people in Canada identified as being of First Nations heritage – and there are 634 First Nations in Canada, speaking more than 50 distinct languages.
The Invictus Games 2025 are set to bring together more than 500 competitors from 20 nations to compete in adaptive sports, which will this time include Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, skeleton and wheelchair curling.
These will be in addition to the core Invictus Games sports of indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball.
A statement said: ‘The Invictus Games 2025 will be held on the traditional territories of the x ʷ məθ kʷə y əm (Musqueam), S ḵwxw ú7mesh (Squamish), St ó:lō and S ə l ílw ətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, Skalulmecw L íl wat ̓ Nation and the G élpcal L ílwat Nation. [sic]
‘The Invictus Games 2025 are working closely to ensure they respond to Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and ensure Indigenous protocols are respected in all aspects of the Games.’
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, was quoted as saying that he was ‘excited’ that his country will host the 2025 Invictus Games.
He continued: ‘In partnership with the True Patriot Love Foundation, we look forward to welcoming competitors to beautiful British Columbia where their athleticism, drive, and competitive spirit will be on full display in the first-ever Winter Invictus Games. Canadians look forward to welcoming you once again.’
There was also a quote given from whom the press release listed as: ‘GélpcalChief Joseph, Respected Leader Khelsilem, Skalulmecw Chief Nelson, Chief Sparrow, Chief Thomas – x ʷ məθ kʷə y əm (Musqueam), S ḵwxw ú7mesh (Squamish), S ə l ílw ətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, Skalulmecw Líl’wat Nation and the Gélpcal Líl’wat Nation.’ [sic]
The quote said: ‘Together our Nations would be proud to provide the stage for these unconquered warriors to inspire the world…’
And British Columbia Premier John Horgan said: ‘British Columbia is proud to host the 2025 Invictus Game and, for the first time, athletes competing in winter adaptive sports.
‘We stand ready to welcome athletes from the global military community to Vancouver and Whistler. Many have made tremendous sacrifices and overcome extraordinary barriers to be competing at the Invictus Games – and British Columbians will be there to cheer them on.’
Meanwhile Nick Booth, chief executive of True Patriot Love Foundation, said the organisation was ‘thrilled’ that Canada has been chosen to host the 2025 Games.
He added: ‘We are excited to bring this new, innovative concept of a hybrid winter games to Vancouver and Whistler, increasing access to the Invictus Games through the introduction of new snow and ice sports.
‘We are proud of the partnership and trust that has been built with the First Nations communities and the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and look forward to delivering a Games in 2025 that has a lasting impact on the province of British Columbia, Canada’s military community, and competitors and their families from around the world.’
It comes as the Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge have faced questions this week about Harry’s controversial comments about ensuring the Queen was ‘protected’ and his apparent snub to the Prince of Wales.
The royal brothers, who have a troubled relationship, were confronted with the fallout from the duke’s chat with a US television network earlier this week that left some royal commentators denouncing Harry.
Harry is in the Netherlands supporting his Invictus Games while his older brother William was carrying out an official visit to the London headquarters of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
William was asked by a female broadcaster ‘sir, does the Queen need protecting?’ as he left the organisation’s offices with Kate, but the couple did not respond.
In his interview with NBC’s Today show the Duke of Sussex appeared to issue a veiled warning to those closest to the Queen saying he wanted to make sure his grandmother was ‘protected’ and had ‘the right people around her’.
The duke did not elaborate on whether he was referring to royal aides or members of his own family, but his comments are likely to have deepened his rift with his father the Prince of Wales and his brother and perplexed palace officials.
He side-stepped co-presenter Hoda Kotb’s question if he missed his father or brother, and instead said: ‘For me at the moment I’m here focused on these guys and giving everything I can 120 per cent to them to make sure they have the experience of a lifetime.’
Harry was questioned after he left a venue in The Hague, where he had been watching a powerlifting event, and as he was driven away on an electric buggy he was asked by a reporter if had managed to wish the Queen, who turned 96 on Thursday, ‘happy birthday’.
The duke turned away without speaking and ignored another journalist who asked: ‘How do you feel about the reaction to your interview, sir?’
As the buggy pulled away another journalist asked ‘How are you going to protect the Queen, sir?’ but got no response.
In his NBC interview Harry also said he did not know if he will return to the UK to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, saying there are ‘security issues and everything else’.
And he appeared to commit his immediate future to the US, saying: ‘Home for me now is, you know, for the time being, it’s in the States, and it feels that way as well.’