EXCLUSIVE: Meghan Markle tells veterans she is missing Archie and Lili as she prepares to return to the US tomorrow after going to Invictus Games opening with Harry while flanked by five bodyguards
- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were seen at day two of the Invictus Games taking place at The Hague
- Meghan told a British Army veteran of how she misses her children, Archie and Lili, back in California, USA
- The trip is understood to be the longest they’ve been away from Archie, three, and Lili, who is aged 10 months
- The Sussexes are being protected by a security team of five body guards during the event at The Hague
The Duchess of Sussex has told how she is missing her two young children Archie and Lili while attending the Invictus Games.
Meghan made the confession as she sat in of a reading to a group of 12 children in a private event held in the Zuiderpark on the second day of the event.
She told British army veteran James Stride that she had wanted to attend the reading as it meant she was around children, and they reminded her of her own back home in California.
‘Meghan was quite chatty and told me she was missing her children,’ said James, one of the GB competitors in the games being held in The Hague.
‘She said she wanted to be with children as she was missing her own.’
The couple’s first trip to Europe is understood to be the longest they have been apart from Archie, three and ten month old Lili.
With temperatures in the 60s Meghan had ditched her white wool coat that she wore to attend an athletics event for a pin-striped blazer. She was accompanied by her burly security guard who kept an eye of the Duchess as she happily posed for selfies with fans
The Duchess of Sussex has told how she is missing her two young children Archie and Lili while attending the Invictus Games. She was seen snapping selfies with fans today at the Invictus Games
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, hug Lisa Johnston, a former army medic and amputee, who celebrates with her medal at the Invictus Games venue in The Hague, Netherlands, Sunday, April 17, 2022
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle visit the sitting volleyball section of the fifth edition of the Invictus Games in The Hague on April 17, 2022
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Athletics Competition during day two of the Invictus Games The Hague
They have stayed behind at the couple’s £11m home in Montecito, California while the couple travelled to the Netherlands.
James, 37, read from the book ‘Hairy Maclary’ to the group of children in a tent hosted by the British Embassy in the Netherlands.
James said: ‘Meghan told me she was familiar with the book and one that she read to her own children. She was very friendly, and the book was well known by her family.’
With temperatures in the 60s Meghan had ditched her white wool coat that she wore to attend an athletics event for a pin-striped blazer.
She was accompanied by her burly security guard who kept an eye of the Duchess as she happily posed for selfies with fans.
Two other security guards wearing sweatshirts with the name of their company ‘First Line’ also watched from a distance as Meghan was swamped by well-wishers.
She happily posed for two selfies from women who had waited until she left the reading.
It had been expected that Meghan would read extracts from her own book ‘The Bench’ to a group of GB competitor’s children.
But instead the book was chosen by 19-year veteran Stride as it was a favourite of his as a child.
Meghan told British army veteran James Stride (pictured) that she had wanted to attend the reading as it meant she was around children, and they reminded her of her own back home in California
James Stride read Hairy Maclary at a book reading corner at the Invictus Games, April 17 2022, which was attended by Meghan
James, who competes in the rowing and power lifting has the ‘I am Invictus’ logo tattooed on his leg, said of Harry and Meghan: ‘I think they are both fantastic and they do so much to promote the games.’
Harry is seen embracing Dave Henson, a former Royal Engineer Search Adviser in the Army who lost both of his legs when he stood on EID in Helmand in 2011
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speak with a member of Team USA on day two of the Invictus Games 2020 at Zuiderpark on April 17, 2022
After the reading he handed a copy of the book to Meghan and confessed the had cheekily signed his name inside and presented it as a gift.
James, who served in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, said he had previously met Prince Harry in 2007 when they both served in Afghanistan.
He said: ‘I was a vehicle engineer and Harry came in with his vehicle. I did meet him, but I don’t suppose he remembers me.’
James, who competes in the rowing and power lifting has the ‘I am Invictus’ logo tattooed on his leg, added: ‘I think they are both fantastic and they do so much to promote the games.’
The British Council are stating readings twice a day at the tent with a selection of more than a dozen books readers choose from – but not a copy of Meghan’s book ‘The Bench’.
Meanwhile, a veteran friend of Harry said the The Duke of Sussex is ‘back with his own people’ when he is at the Invictus Games.
Harry and Meghan watched the action next to Jaco Van Gass – a Paralympian gold medallist and former Invictus competitor who suffered life-changing injuries with the British Army.
Mr Van Gass left his home in South Africa to pursue a military career 16 years ago, but was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in 2009 while serving with the Parachute Regiment and lost his left arm at the elbow.
He met Harry in 2011 when the duke joined the record-breaking team of wounded soldiers he was part of that trekked unsupported to the North Pole.
The 35-year-old said it was ‘amazing’ to see Harry and Meghan, adding that it was ‘wonderful’ to catch up with them and they were ‘friendly as ever’.
He said Harry told him he is having a ‘really, really good time’.
Mr Van Gass said: ‘Invictus is his family, basically.
‘There’s so many familiar faces that he’s not seen in a while, and again to all the nations, just to catch up with them again.
‘He’s back with his own people, he’s back in an environment that he’s so natural in and that he cares about.
‘I think that’s the most important thing – this great depth of care that he has for the games.
‘He’s just very down to earth, humble, and he’s just true to his word, he’s a very nice guy.
‘It’s amazing to think of his profile and who he is and how relaxed you can be around him.’
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have been seen arriving at day two of the Invictus Games in the Netherlands ahead of watching athletes compete in the athletics
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pose for a photo with competitors from Iraq at the Invictus Games athletics events in the Athletics Park, at Zuiderpark the Hague, Netherlands
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex greet competitors from Italy at the Invictus Games athletics events in the Athletics Park, at Zuiderpark the Hague, Netherlands
Mr Van Gass said he also spoke briefly with Meghan.
‘She’s having a good time,’ he said. ‘She’s in really good form and really enjoying all the events and seeing… it’s so inspirational.
‘Even just the people on the volleyball court at the moment, you see all kinds of different injuries, and just seeing them being active, smiles on their faces, comradery, all the teams are very friendly with each other.’
Following her side swipe at the royals in her speech where she referred to ‘service’ Meghan looked very relaxed on Sunday morning when the couple arrived at the games.
Harry wore a fleece emblazoned with the Invictus Logo and sand-coloured chinos and shoes.
All the bodyguards – two of whom are believed to be with the Dutch Royal Protection squad officers – stood in a protective circle around the entrance.
Two others who wore Invictus jackets are believed to be from the couple’s private security firm.
With few people around, the bodyguards were at ease and allowed spectators walking past to take photographs.
When one of the Invictus volunteers asked Harry if he could take a selfie, the Prince said: ‘I’ve not got time now and will do one of the way out’.
The couple watched the opening hour of the athletics before attending the volleyball event.
Film crews are spotted for ‘Heart of Invictus’ documentary to be shown on Netflix during the Invictus Games in The Hague
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak to members of staff at the entrance to the athletic event at the Invictus Games
Another veteran Jaco Van Gass said of Harry: ‘Invictus is his family, basically There’s so many familiar faces that he’s not seen in a while, and again to all the nations, just to catch up with them again. He’s back with his own people, he’s back in an environment that he’s so natural in and that he cares about’
Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex during the archery event of the fifth Invictus Game
The afternoon session saw Prince Harry attend an indoor archery contest, while Meghan was seen at a book reading.
The couple are being followed by a Netflix film crew making a docu-series as part of their company Archewell’s £100m deal with the streaming giant.
A team of 30 have been assigned to follow the couple around to gather material for what is expected to be a three-part series.
One of the organisers said the Netflix team arrived in six people carriers with caseloads of equipment.
The film crew have been given maroon bibs to help them stand out from the dozens of photographers covering the games and given exclusive access to the couple with behind close door meeting with the athletes.
Filming has already taken place with Harry and Meghan meeting members of the Ukranian squad who have received repeated standing ovations from other competitors.
Both Harry and Meghan paid tribute to courage of the competitors.
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