Prince Harry, Meghan Markle & the Opening of the Invictus Games

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And so the Invictus Games are officially open and underway. Prince Harry traveled to Toronto at the end of last week to meet and greet athletes, visit with participating government officials and representatives and host the opening ceremony. The headline news, of course, is that Meghan Markle turned up for the launch on Saturday night, followed up by Harry’s meeting with First Lady Melania Trump.

Harry made his debut in the city on Friday at a conference with True Patriot Love, a Canadian foundation focused on military families.

He spent Friday afternoon touring facilities, meeting with athletes and generally helping to kick off and publicize the event. Social media’s favorite moment from the day:

On Saturday he had what are being called “bilateral talks” with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Melania Trump. And while normally a meeting with Trudeau is a surefire way to garner attention, all eyes were on the Trump meeting in what would be the first formal meeting between a member of the Royal Family and the First Family since President Trump’s inauguration in January.

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Naturally headlines were driven with commentary that everyone’s body language was nervous and awkward, but if we’re being honest, there’s not much to get worked up about here. By all appearances it was a professional exchange and there’s little reason for Melania to be held accountable for her husband’s past remarks on the Duchess of Cambridge or the late Princess of Wales.

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Moving on to the good stuff: Meghan Markle. Given that the Invictus Games take place in Toronto, Meghan’s home base, there was particularly fevered speculation that she would show up this weekend, marking her first appearance at an official royal event. And while there’s been a lot of hype about protocol and what her attendance would mean…um, it actually doesn’t mean much in and of itself. Meghan has always been free to join one of these types of engagements – just as Harry has included former girlfriends and Kate turned up at a handful before she married the Duke of Cambridge.

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Even so, naturally it is a significant moment that she was in the audience last night. It’s also completely understandable given that this is arguably Harry’s biggest professional event each year, she was nearby and presumably she wanted to support him. She sat with a mutual friend and eagle-eyed royal reporters noted that one of Harry’s protection officers was nearby to ensure her safe arrival and exit.

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And if this does go the way we hope, let us all take note that Meghan made her royal debut in purple leather.

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Harry gave a great speech – one which brought the audience to its feet, including Meghan:

While Meghan ducked out a little before the event concluded, Harry remained in the same box of seats that contained Melania (to whom he sat next) and Trudeau.

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Today the games are officially underway and Harry has been out and about supporting the program and British teams. It’s unclear whether or not Meghan will turn up throughout the week, but a closing ceremony is scheduled for the 30th, so we’ll see…

And you can stay up to speed with the week’s events by following @InvictusToronto on Twitter. 

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