Prince Harry just wrapped up the fifth Invictus Games, an adaptive sports competition for veterans that takes place in different cities each year. The Games was founded by Harry, who himself is a combat veteran, and this year marked the Games’ return after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. A lot has changed for Harry in those two years, including becoming a father of two, and formally leaving the royal family behind, and moving to the United States. But one thing that hasn’t changed is his annual commitment to the Invictus Games, and in a recent interview he shared how he’s introducing his kids to adaptive sports and talking to his kids about disabilities. The Invictus Games offers support, rehabilitation, and a community for wounded, sick, and injured veterans through adaptive sports.
In a recent exclusive interview with People, Harry spoke about taking his two kids to the games when they’ve old enough. His answer was the standard of what you’d expect a dad to say about introducing his kids – Archie, who turns 3 on May 6th, and 10-month-old Lilibet who he shares with wife Meghan Markle – to his passion, the games , when they’re old enough. However, there was a subtle but important message in his response, too.
“Do you look forward to taking Archie and Lili to the Games when they are old enough,” the People reporter asked Harry, “and what do you hope they will take away from the experience?”
Harry answered back that he “can not wait” for his kids to be old enough to experience the Games with him. And then Harry shared a story about introducing Archie to adaptive sports.
“I showed Archie a video of wheelchair basketball and rugby from the Invictus Games in Sydney, and he absolutely loved it,” Harry said. “I showed him how some [players] were missing legs and explained that some had invisible injuries, too. Not because he asked, but because I wanted to tell him. Kids understand so much, and to see it through his eyes was amazing because it’s so unfiltered and honest. ”
While it might not seem like anything happened in that conversation, the fact that the moment was so nonchalant and every day is exactly what makes it stand out. Disability is a normal part of the human experience, and it does not need to be “othered” or made a big deal about when we have conversations with our kids about differences in people. Harry did not sensationalize what was going on. He did not paint the athletes as an inspiration simply for playing rugby or basketball. He left ableism out and normalized the conversation of disability.
Talking to our kids about disability is an important and ongoing conversation. But how we go about having the conversations is just as important. Prince Harry did it right: keeping things matter of fact, leaving sensationalized language out of it, and showing his kids that it’s OK to see our differences.