Prince Harry gives royal push to Invictus Games for troops

Britain's Prince Harry meets Obama on US visit, attends basketball game with First Lady

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

First lady Michelle Obama, reacts as Britain's Prince Harry hands her the basketball as the conclusion of a game of wheelchair basketball by wounded servicemen and veterans at Fort Belvoir military base, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015

Britain's Prince Harry had a friendly challenge with U.S. athletes on Wednesday as he promoted next year's Invictus Games for wounded service members: "You better bring it, USA," he told troops and veterans at Virginia's Fort Belvoir.

The prince, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, high-fived two rows of wheelchair basketball players at Ft. Belvoir before making remarks that gave a royal seal of approval to programs that help injured service members recover from the physical and emotional wounds of war.

Harry, who served two tours in Afghanistan, recalled seeing the brutal injuries suffered by fellow service members, and said that's when he found his mission -- to help injured veterans "lead healthy and dignified lives after service."

During his stop at the base's USO Warrior and Family Center, the prince also visited art and music therapy rooms. He admired an Uncle Sam mural painted by one former service member and tapped his toes to the jazzy strains coming from a drums-and-keyboard duo of Marines as he joked, "If I played an instrument, I'd join the band."

US President Barack Obama meets Britain’s Prince Harry, left, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015

Singer and keyboard player Lt. Col. Shane Tomko of Quincy, Illinois, credited the music therapy program with helping save his life.

Harry and the first and second ladies sat courtside to check out a wheelchair basketball game, the three of them clapping and cheering for both teams. The trio and the crowd applauded as a female player who toppled out of her wheelchair was helped up by other players.

It was all part of Harry's full-court effort to promote the Invictus games, an international sporting competition for injured armed service personnel. Harry spearheaded the first games, in London last year. The next round will be in Orlando, Florida, next May.

Obama, who warmed up the crowd for Harry, took note of the excitement attached to the prince's visit, telling the crowd, "Alright ladies, Prince Harry is here. Don't act like you don't know."

The 31-year-old prince, fifth in line to the throne, this summer ended his full-time service in the army and said he wanted to spend more time on charitable causes. He spent the summer working with animal conservation groups in Africa.

Later Wednesday, the prince was to visit with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Spokesman Eric Schultz said the president wanted to thank the prince for supporting wounded warriors and for his hospitality toward the first lady when she visited London earlier this summer.