Prince Harry has been so devoted to the Invictus Games since it held its first ever competition in 2014, so it must have been heartbreaking for him to decide to move the 2020 instalment to next year. But he says it was the right thing to do in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 35-year-old royal shared a personal video message to those affected by the 2020 games being moved to next year. They were due to take place in The Hague in May, but the COVID-19 concerns made it "impossible" to stage this year's competition due to health and safety issues, organizers said in a statement on March 19.
"This was an incredibly difficult decision for all of us to have to make," Harry said in a video shared on the Invictus Games The Hague 2020's Twitter. "And I'm so grateful for everybody that's worked so hard over the past couple of weeks to try to find any alternative to try and carry on these Games in a different way – in a safe way.
"But this decision was the most sensible and the safest option for all of you – for your families and everybody else – involved in these Games."
The @WeAreInvictus patron, the #DukeofSussex, has released a video message to the #InvictusGames competitors recognising their disappointment at the news, but that it's the best outcome for their safety and recovery. #CoronavirusUpdate#IG2020#COVID19pic.twitter.com/SLbT7QOl7D
— Invictus Games The Hague 2020 (@InvictusGamesNL) March 19, 2020
There's a silver lining, though, he said, in that it may prompt even stronger competition and physical feats next year.
"The good thing is you'll have an extra 12 or so months to be even fitter – to get even fitter than you already are," he continued. "To be at your absolute top mental and physical fitness. In that sense, I'm really excited about the Games next year."
In announcing the 2020 Games would be rescheduled, organizers said they are "investigating all options" to move them. The Invictus Games Foundation said it didn't wish to "add to the complexity of the response" to COVID-19. The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has caused more than 8,700 deaths worldwide as of this writing, according to the World Health Organization, with nearly 210,000 cases reported in 168 countries, areas or territories.
The illness has forced the Royal Family to cancel major events and change their plans already this year.
Earlier this week, the Queen announced several cancellations and postponements to events on her calendar. She will not attend the Maundy Thursday service at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 9, and the Garden Parties she traditionally hosts at Buckingham Palace are off this year. Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's state visit to the UK is also postponed. Her Majesty and Prince Philip have both been moved to Windsor Castle for the time being to begin an early Easter break, and it is likely they will stay there after the holiday, too.
Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla were forced to postpone their tour of Cyprus and Jordan, which was to take place this week, along with the Duke of Cornwall's visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The future King remains committed as ever to his royal duties, and has been working remotely during this crisis.
Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi cancelled their wedding reception, which was to take place May 29 after their nuptials. They are still scheduled to be married that day, but are considering making the ceremony private, for close friends and family only.
Karl von Habsburg, the ancestral Archduke of Austria, was the first royal to reveal he has COVID-19. He has described the illness as "annoying" and said he is "fine" despite the health issue. He said he's listening to medical advice on how to recover.