Rain Fails To Dampen Invictus Spirit
Heavy downpours didn't dampen the spirits of Prince Harry or the hundreds of defence veterans and their families who turned out for the official opening of the Invictus Games at Sydney's Opera House.
The rain and a spectacular lightning show forced organisers to delay the outdoor event more than an hour as safety checks were carried out on Saturday night.
Once the all clear was given, Harry and wife Megan oversaw the soggy start to the week-long games that will see 500 wounded former servicemen and women from 18 nations compete in 13 adaptive sports.
Noting it was 45 years to the day since his grandmother the Queen officially opened the Opera House, Harry said he was honoured to kick off the fourth Invictus Games in the same spot.
The former British Army captain paid tribute to what he called the 'Invictus Generation", telling athletes they were more than competitors and examples of dedication despite their sacrifices too often going unnoticed.
"You are the unconquered generation. You are the optimistic generation.
"You are the new generation of service and the role models to us all and you are going to put on one hell of a show over the next week."
He also had a special message for Australia, thanking the nation for the warm welcome he and Meghan had received since their arrival on Monday when they broke the news they were expecting a baby.
"I have been so proud to be able to introduce my wife to you and we have been so happy to be able to celebrate the personal joy of our newest edition with you all," Harry said to huge applause.
The ceremony began with rousing cheers for each of the 13 nations as their flags were paraded around the Opera House forecourt before several thousand people.
There was also a distinctive Aussie flavour to the two-hour event, with indigenous cultural dances and a smoking ceremony.
Songstress Kate Ceberano joined Cold Chisel's Ian Moss to belt out their rendition of his band's classic 80's hit Flame Trees.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison took time out from commiserating with colleagues about the Liberal Party's loss in the Wentworth by-election to attend the ceremony alongside NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Olympic champions Ian Thorpe and Anna Meares as well as Paralympic champion Curtis McGrath.
Morrison praised the "uncomprable souls" of the Invictus competitors while Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove summed up the Games as being all about "competition and commaraderie".
Comedian Magda Szubanski's sports mad alter-ego Sharon Strzelecki raised some laughs as she praised the work of volunteers, appearing on stage in her netball outfit looking the worse for wear after "an encounter with a kangaroo" en route to Sydney.
English soprano and royal family favourite Laura Wright performed Invincible, a song she wrote for the inaugural Invictus Games in London in 2014, as the official Invictus flag was presented to the crowd.