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Harry and Meghan may not be senior royals anymore, but their trip to Germany on Tuesday certainly felt like a state visit.
German media rolled out the red carpet for the ‘super celebrities’ and the couple, who appeared visibly relaxed and good-humoured, were greeted by hordes of screaming fans.
The Duchess and Duke were in Düsseldorf to promote next year’s Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style sporting event for veterans of the armed forces of which Harry is a long-time patron.
The prince immediately endeared himself to fans and media in attendance, starting the press conference in German before making a joke about Düsseldorf’s famous Altbier.
‘I’ve heard the beer is better here than in Cologne. Is that true?’ Harry joked, mocking the Kölsch beer brewed just 40 miles south.
“We have to find out. What better reason than this hot day.’
The prince immediately endeared himself to the fans and media in attendance, starting the press conference in German before making a joke about Düsseldorf’s famous Altbier.
German media rolled out the red carpet for the ‘super celebrities’ Harry and Meghan, who seemed visibly relaxed and cheerful when greeted by hordes of screaming fans.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, at the Invictus Games One Year To Go event in Duesseldorf, Germany
The Duke of Sussex waves to the crowd as he strolls the streets of Duesseldorf on September 6, 2022
The couple was they all smiled as they arrived at the city’s main square, where royal fans stood in the stifling heat for over two hours to watch them promote the games, exactly one year before it kicks off in September.
The event had many of the hallmarks of a royal visit, despite the couple being considered private citizens rather than royals by German police.
More than 500 people stood behind metal gates in front of the town hall entrance, some of whom had taken their places at the front three hours before the couple’s scheduled arrival.
A private security team followed the Duke and Duchess as they walked through the streets, waving to adoring fans and stopping to shake hands and take selfies.
Among the crowd were former soldier Bob Clark and his wife Lily who were dressed for the occasion. Clark wore an ermine robe, a crown and a mask of the queen that covered his face.
His wife was holding a bag to celebrate Harry and Meghan’s wedding and wearing a Union Jack coat and hat.
The couple traveled from their home in Duisburg to show their support for the royal family – even though California-based Harry and Meghan are no longer working members of the so-called ‘firm’ after stepping down as senior royals in January 2020, in a movement called Megxit.
Bob said: ‘We are both big fans of the Queen and the Royal Family. It will be great to see Harry and Meghan.”
Meghan, dressed in a £245 cream knit cardigan from trendy LA label Anine Bing and matching trousers, and Harry, in a gray suit, flew into Germany on Tuesday morning where police closed intersections and built miles of roadblocks so they and their entourage could avoid traffic jams.
The couple greeted the fans before enjoying a boat ride along the Rhine from the reception to the Merkur Spiel-Arena, where Harry delivered his speech at an Invictus Games press conference.
Prince Harry is full of joy as he strokes a small dog on Tuesday while taking selfies with fans outside Düsseldorf City Hall
The Duchess of Sussex takes selfies with Invictus athletes at the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023 – One Year To Go Events
Selfie respect: The prince grinned for a photo with a member of the public in Germany today
The 2023 edition of the Invictus Games, an international multi-sport event for wounded, wounded and sick military personnel, both military and veterans, will take place from September 9-16, 2023
In his speech to the media, Harry praised the service staff for their sacrifice and said they deserved a moment in the spotlight.
“I am more than impressed with everything I have seen so far and have full confidence in what we will present next year together with representatives from 22 countries,” he said.
‘It [Düsseldorf] is a great location with a lively atmosphere and full of great people. From what I’ve already seen today, I have a good idea of how we’re going to bring these games’ motto – a home for respect – to life.
‘I believe that showing respect and appreciation is just as important to experience respect and appreciation. That is the spirit we bring to Düsseldorf.
“For those who risk their lives to serve their country and protect us, for those who have experienced physical and mental trauma as a result of that service, and for the families who have taken on the unseen sacrifice of this lifestyle every day – these games are for you .
“From day one of donning the uniform, the men and women representing our service community were prepared for unimaginable mental and physical stress. They fought for their lives, our lives, our freedoms and our democracies. They are my role models. Nothing can, or has, or will stop them. They inspire their communities and they inspire the world.
“Thank you for your commitment to a cause greater than yourself.”
The Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023 will take place from September 9-16 and will bring together more than 500 participants from 20 countries to compete in a range of adaptive sports.