When I least expected it, a magical encounter with royalty brightened my day in Dusseldorf. As I was strolling back to my hotel, weary from a long day in the sunshine, I had to do a double take. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were casually strolling the cobbled streets, just minutes away from where I was staying. The presence of police officers hinted at their identity, but still, I couldn’t help but feel shocked with a capital ‘s’.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, accompanied by their Archewell family, were out celebrating Prince Harry’s birthday at a local restaurant called ‘Im Goldenen Kessel’, which is part of the Brauerei Schumacher. The owner, Thea Ungermann, and waiter, Frank Wackers, were fortunate to have served the royal couple at their table. Reflecting on the experience, Thea expressed her overwhelming joy:
“The couple were very relaxed, they drank our beer, Schumacher Alt – it’s the same beer they are serving at the Invictus Games. Harry and Meghan sat next to each other during the meal. I had goosebumps when they walked into the restaurant, I had watched his speech on the stage at the Invictus Games and couldn’t believe he was in my restaurant. Prince Harry was so lovely and gave me a hug.”
It’s heartwarming to witness such genuine kindness and down-to-earth behavior from members of the royal family. As they enjoyed their meal, their spirits were remarkably high, and they even treated Thea with a plate of shot glasses filled with an alcoholic delicacy.
Prince Harry and Meghan’s surprise visit to Dusseldorf came after attending a private NATO meeting earlier in the day. The couple’s compelling presence at the meeting surely left a lasting impression on all those in attendance. But their day was far from over.
The royal couple headed to the arena to watch some sports, spreading joy and warmth wherever they went. The cheering crowd welcomed them wholeheartedly as they rooted for the teams. Meghan, displaying her characteristic empathy, rushed over to comfort Tito Wesser, a German player who had slipped and unfortunately couldn’t continue in the competition.
I had the opportunity to speak with James Roger, this year’s UK team captain, who shared his gratitude for the Duke and Duchess’ support:
“We had a meeting with the Duke the other day at the beginning of the Games. It was a morale-booster for the team. We got to meet them all. We got to chat to them all. It was really, really positive. Everyone came away from that absolutely ready for the Games. He was saying good luck to us.”
James further emphasized the sense of unity and support within the Invictus family, saying, “We’re here together. Him coming along to show his support really brings the atmosphere up.”
The surprise visit by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Dusseldorf added a joyful conclusion to an already action-packed day at the arena. Their infectious energy and genuine interest in the athletes and attendees undoubtedly left a lasting impact on everyone present. With their presence, they highlighted the spirit of camaraderie and resilience that the Invictus Games embody.
In a world where cynicism often overshadows the good, these encounters with the royal couple serve as a reminder of the positive influence that individuals in high positions can have. Prince Harry and Meghan’s humility and dedication to making a difference are inspirations for us all.
As I reflect on this enchanting experience, I can’t help but acknowledge the genuine joy and happiness they brought to the people of Dusseldorf. It serves as a testament to the power of unexpected encounters and the potential for even the smallest gestures of kindness to create a ripple effect of positivity.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s visit to Dusseldorf will forever be etched in the memories of those fortunate enough to witness their presence. Their surprise appearance breathed life into the city, giving us all a renewed sense of hope and reminding us of the transformative power of connection and shared experiences.