Crowd of royal watchers greet Prince Harry in Toronto on eve of Invictus Games
Prince is founder of multinational competition for wounded and sick soldiers and veterans
Prince Harry was greeted by a crowd of royal watchers as he made his first appearance at an event related to the Invictus games in Toronto.
The founder of the competition for wounded, injured and sick soldiers and veterans strolled into Scotia Plaza early Friday morning for a symposium on veterans issues a day before the games.
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Outside, royal watchers praised Harry for his commitment to supporting injured soldiers and their families.
"Obviously everyone's here to get a glimpse of Prince Harry, but also I like what he's doing with the Invictus Games," said Akash Patel, one of dozens of people who stood waiting outside the downtown Toronto building.
"You can see the passion in him, that he really cares about these games."
Other fans told CBC Toronto what they'd tell Harry, if they had the chance.
"Keep doing what you're doing, keep focusing on charity work and trying to make a difference," said Tracey Elliott Potter, who waited with friends.
Rolanda Paath said she was hoping for a selfie with the prince, but even without one, "it's awesome to have him as the patron for the whole event."
Patel said he'd be content to snap a photo of Harry on his way in our out of the building.
"I'd rather get a selfie with Meghan Markle," he said with a laugh.
Supporting military families
Friday's event is being hosted by the Canadian charity True Patriot Love and focuses on the impact of injury on military families.
Wearing a blue blazer, white shirt and black slacks, Harry met with those families and spoke to Canadian athletes before the event got underway.
True Patriot Love chief executive Bronwen Evans said Harry's participation helps spread awareness about the often difficult reality facing military families.
"Quite frankly, it would be tough to do that without somebody like him talking about these issues," she said.
Raising the flag
After the morning symposium, Harry watched the Invictus Games flag complete its cross-country tour — it travelled from Comox, B.C.. to Halifax, N.S. — at Toronto City Hall.
Hundreds of people gathered to see Harry and watch Olympic gold medallist Penny Oleksiak and parasport icon Rick Hansen wave the flag before it ascended the mast.
Mayor John Tory thanked Harry and other organizers and ended with a plea to the city.
"Let's make sure each and every one of the people visiting and our own Team Canada feel as great as they can feel at the end of a week as they possible could," he said.
Harry's busy schedule
Later in the afternoon, Harry was scheduled to spend time with athletes as they prepare for the games.
On Saturday, Harry will tour Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health before meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the hours before the opening ceremony.
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.
The games run from Sept. 23 to Sept. 30.
With files from The Canadian Press