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Harry beats drum for Invictus Games

Prince Harry beamed out his first ever tweet to drum up interest in his inaugural Paralympic-style games for wounded service personnel.

From the dizzy heights of the BT communications tower in central London, Harry tweeted to encourage sports fans to buy tickets for the Invictus Games.

He wrote: "Hope everyone will get behind #invictusgames. Great opportunity to support and thank the men and women who have given so much. Harry".

The Prince at first seemed a little wary of using the social media site in front of sponsors and reporters and took his time, later joking: "That's why I joined the Army, I can't type fast."

He later joked Mayor of London Boris Johnson, an enthusiastic Twitter user, would be "thrilled" to see him taking to the site.

Inspired by the US Warrior Games, the Invictus Games will take place from September 10 to 14 in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Some 40,000 tickets for the event, which will host more than 400 competitors from 14 nations, go on sale tomorrow.

The Prince, who used the official @InvictusLondon account to send his tweet, said the Games would give wounded servicemen and women the chance to prove anything is possible.

"For many of those who have suffered life-changing injuries, sport plays a hugely important part in their recovery and life beyond, as you have heard," he said.

"This is particularly true for those men and women injured in the service of their country.

"By the nature of their profession these men and women are often very active and undoubtedly highly competitive.

"The Invictus Games this September will give these inspirational people the opportunity to showcase their talent and in doing so, prove that anything is really possible."

Later Harry chatted with injured servicemen who were hoping to take part in the event and took part in a Twitter Q&A session with them.

Andy Phillips, who suffered a spinal injury while serving with the RAF in the Gulf War in 1990, explained that sport had helped him sort his life out over the last three years.

The 48-year-old, from Salisbury in Wiltshire, who is hoping to compete in archery at the Games, said of Harry: "He is just a really nice guy and of the same military family.

"He joked that he couldn't type because he was in the Army and I told him I can't read because I'm RAF.

"He certainly had more of an idea about Twitter than I do."

Wounded personnel are in training ahead of a qualifying assessment in August which will determine whether they make the cut. They can opt to compete in nine sports - archery, athletics, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, indoor rowing and powerlifting.

Daniel "Baz" Whittingham, who lost his left leg whilst serving in Afghanistan with the Royal Logistics Corps in 2009, said the opportunity to compete was a "key part" in his and every serviceman and woman's recovery.

"It gives us a chance to compete on a level playing field," the 28-year-old said. "We really can't wait to get out there and compete against each other."

Sir Keith Mills, chairman of the Invictus Games, said that getting Harry to tweet had required "a little royal protocol".

"Members of the royal family don't normally tweet, I don't think they've ever tweeted," Sir Keith said.

"But they were comfortable and he was thrilled to do it, so we have made a bit of history this morning."

The former deputy chairman of the London Olympics and Paralympics organising committe said it was all in keeping with the hands-on approach Harry has taken towards his role.

Tickets for the games, which cost £12.85 per person, can be purchased from tomorrow morning.


From Belfast Telegraph