PRINCE Harry has laid bare his soul after giving an emotional and touching speech to open the Invictus Games in Toronto.

The 33-year-old royal took to the stage to tell the harrowing tale of what inspired him to start the Games - a four-day sporting event for service men and women injured while on duty.

In 2008, after finishing he first deployment in Afghanistan, the then 24-year-old Prince waited on the plane that would take him home.

But the horrors of war followed him as a passenger.

"Once on the flight, I was confronted by three British soldiers, all in induced comas, with missing limbs, and wrapped in plastic," he told the crowd.

"The coffin of a Danish soldier was loaded on by his friends.

"The way I viewed service and sacrifice changed forever and the direction of my life changed with it.

"I knew it was my responsibility to use the great platform that I have, top help the world understand, and be inspired by the spirit of those who wear the uniform."

But the Prince said that despite their injuries and pain, the hundreds of athletes that will compete in Toronto have shown they refuse "to be defined by their injuries".

"In a world where so many have reasons to feel cynical an apathetic, I wanted to find a way for veterans to be a beacon of light," the Prince said.

"To show us all that we have a role to play, that we all win when we respect our friends, neighbours and communities.

"That's why we created Invictus."

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