TORONTO – Dozens of onlookers gathered outside a building in Toronto’s financial district Friday morning hoping to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry as the royal founder of the Invictus Games set the stage for the multi-sport competition that gets underway in the city this weekend.
The royal, however, appeared determined to keep the focus on the Games, and didn’t stop to interact with fans who cheered and called out to him.
The Games for wounded and sick soldiers, including current and veteran members of the forces, runs until Sept. 30 and marks the first time Canada hosts the event.
Harry attended a symposium on veterans’ issues Friday morning, arriving at the event under tight security. He smiled as he greeted and posed for photographs with athletes and their families.
A large group of bystanders gathered to catch a glimpse of the prince as he left the event, letting out a cheer as he walked swiftly by and into a waiting vehicle.
Adele Eccleston, who is originally from England, was among those who waited to see the royal.
“I just popped over from across the street just to see Prince Harry and show support for his support of the Invictus Games,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful that he’s taking a stand and supporting the efforts.”
Some in the crowd, however, said they had hoped to see a bit more of the prince.
“I wished he would have waved,” said Amanda Shovlin, who took a break from work to join those gathered outside the building.
“It was very quick, but I am sure he is very busy,” added her friend Melissa Barkley.
Harry is set to spend time with athletes training for the Games later on Friday.
On Saturday, Harry will visit Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health before meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Later in the evening he will attend the Games’ opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre, which will feature performances by Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara and the Tenors.
Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014 as a way to inspire and motivate wounded soldiers on their paths to recovery.
At least 550 competitors from 17 countries are slated to compete in 12 sports, including track and field, swimming and, in a first for the Invictus Games, golf.
Sporting event tickets cost $25 and both opening and closing ceremony tickets start at $60.
Closing ceremony performers include the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Kelly Clarkson.
The first Invictus Games were held in London, England, in 2014.
— With files from Marie-Espérance Cerda