Prince Harry and Meghan Markle both wore Royal British Legion poppies as they visited United States Navy SEALs in San Diego last night and helped cut the ribbon on a new fitness centre for veterans. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined the Navy SEAL Foundation for the official opening of a new training base, known as the ‘West Coast warrior fitness programme facility’, ahead of Veterans Day on November 11. Meghan and Harry watched as dignitaries cut the ribbon – with the Duchess waving to the small crowd before they entered the building for a tour without saying any words.
Earlier in the day the Duchess of Sussex also wore a $1,490 (£1,210) Carolina Herrera cardigan, embroidered with poppies – the symbol of remembrance for all those who lost their lives on active service, from the beginning of the First World War right up to present day. The couple were meeting veterans, servicemen and women and and their loved-ones at Camp Pendleton. It came as across the Atlantic, tensions continued to simmer with Harry’s family with experts claiming ‘the rift in the Royal Family could not be wider’.
The Duke of Sussex’s spokesman had slammed reports Harry had snubbed his father’s 75th birthday party next week, claiming he was never invited. Prince Harry also did a stand-up comedy video for a charity event in New York on Monday night, with a video released in the UK just before his father set off to give his first King’s Speech to Parliament.
And then yesterday in Singapore Prince William delivered a pitch to be King as he insisted he wants to ‘go a step further’ than his family and bring real change to the causes he supports, after his Earthshot Awards were held. The Prince of Wales praised the work of other Royal Family members ‘spotlighting’ important causes, but insisted he wanted to do more than ‘just being’ a patron. William’s remarks as his visit to Singapore comes to a close will likely raise eyebrows at Buckingham Palace as he continues to set out a vision for the monarchy’s future. Meghan and Harry’s visit to the Marine base at Pendleton was announced on Wednesday by the website of their foundation, Archewell.
Archewell said that they ‘spent the morning with veteran and active duty service members and their loved-ones at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California .’ The pair were pictured with around a dozen people at a discussion table, and according to Archewell learned about the work of Operation Bigs, a mentoring program set up in 2004. The scheme connects military children and families with others who have gone through similar experiences. Pioneered by Camp Pendleton, it has in the last nine years served more than 3,000 Navy and Marine Corps children, according to Archewell, and has expanded to over 30 affiliates across the country.
Harry, wearing a red Remembrance Day poppy in his lapel, and Meghan in a $1,490 (£1,210) navy Carolina Herrera cardigan, embroidered with red poppies, were photographed speaking to people on the base and being told about the work on site. Meghan paired her wool cardigan with a black pencil skirt. The prince, 39, spent a decade in the British Army, serving two tours of Afghanistan. He and his wife, 42, have spent previous Veterans’ Days on military sites: in 2021, they were at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, and in 2020 visited a military cemetery in Los Angeles.
Last year Harry visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. After visiting Camp Pendleton, Meghan and Harry then traveled to downtown San Diego to open up a new gym for Navy SEALs and veterans wounded in combat. The 20,000-square-foot Warrior Fitness Program West Coast Facility is the second site to open, after a Virginia Beach facility launched in 2017. The foundation already has helped more than 800 active-duty and veteran SEALs and surface warfare combatant crewman. Both sites now have advanced technology, equipment and personnel, The Times of San Diego reported, designed to help with physical and mental recovery. ‘We’re thrilled that the Duke and Duchess are here,’ said Tony Duynstee, a former SEAL who spoke for the SEAL Foundation. ‘It’s quite an honour for them to be here for the commissioning.’
Duynstee said that they aimed to provide holistic recovery programmes. ‘It’s not just physical,’ he said on Wednesday, showing the media around the site. ‘It’s not just shoulders and knees and back. It’s so much more than that. It’s mental health, it’s emotional health. It’s bringing people back into community, teaching the right habits starting with the basics like nutrition and sleep.’ Duynstee pointed out that SEALs have had ‘very heavy sustained combat engagement’ for 20 years or more. Those using the site will have access to conditioning coaches, performance dietitians, speech pathologists, chiropractors, and myofascial release and breathing experts, the paper reported.
The experts will address issues like chronic pain, cognitive decline, proper nutrition, sleep disruption and societal reconnection. It will also help SEALs return to civilian life ‘It’s so hard when you transition,’ Duynstee said. ‘I transitioned about 15 years ago and you have to re-find your purpose. And so that is a major. So when they come back here, they re-engage with their fellows in the gym — and that spirit, the morale, is a big booster beyond just learning how to repair themselves physically — so much more around emotional health and mental health.’ He said the knock-on effects were huge.
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