Prince Harry visits mental health hospital ahead of Invictus Games
TORONTO: Prince Harry met with staff and patients at a Toronto mental health facility also visited by Princess Diana, hours before the opening ceremony of the third Invictus Games on Saturday.
The British royal was scheduled to officially open the games — for disabled or wounded soldiers and veterans — alongside US First Lady Melania Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Saturday night.
As on Friday, Prince Harry — dressed in a blue blazer and beige pants — spent time with athletes Saturday, following a tour of Toronto’s Center for Addiction and Mental Health, where his mother Diana visited 26 years ago.
The prince, who was not joined by girlfriend Meghan Markle, met hospital staff and young patients before greeting fans and posing for pictures outside.
Hours before the opening ceremony, speculation mounted over whether the British royal would arrive at the event with Markle.
Since the “Suits” actress, 36, told Vanity Fair the couple are “in love” last month, fans and the press have been eagerly awaiting an official appearance.
According to his schedule, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson plans to stay at Markle’s Toronto home for the entire eight days of the Games.
After last year’s Games in Orlando, Florida, the third edition of the Games in Toronto brings together more than 550 injured soldiers and veterans from 17 countries.
The first Invictus Games, based on the Paralympic Games, were held in September 2014 in London. They were launched by Prince Harry, who served with the British Army in Afghanistan.
This year’s Games were reserved for Canada, which is marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of its confederation and the centenary of the Battle of Vimy during World War I.
Performances from Canadian pop artists Sarah McLachlan and Alessia Cara and British soprano Laura Wright were set for Saturday’s opening ceremony.
Meanwhile, American rocker Bruce Springsteen will headline the closing ceremony on September 30, joined by Bryan Adams and Quebecois artist Couer de Pirate.