Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made a surprise visit to a NHL hockey game last night where the Duke of Sussex dropped the first puck – just like the Queen did two decades ago – and then the couple drank and danced to Simple Minds as the goals flew in. The California-based couple watched the Vancouver Canucks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 from a VIP box at the Rogers Arena, at one point enjoying the action while cuddling and later jumping in the air to cheer.
When the Canucks won the match, Harry leapt up and Meghan put down her wine glass so they could both dance to celebrate the victory as Simple Minds’ hit Don’t You Forget About Me played. Also with them was Markus Anderson, a friend of Meghan’s from Toronto when they she was filming Suits who helped organise her first date with Harry in London. He is described as the second most important man in her life after her British husband. Harry’s ceremonial puck drop came 21 years after the late Queen did the same when the same teams played each in 2002.
She was on an 11-day tour in Canada in honour of her Golden Jubilee. But one of the players involved last night revealed that he had to repeatedly ask Harry to drop it because ‘he kept holding it and smiling’. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are in Canada for work to promote the next Invictus Games, which will be held in Vancouver and Whistler in February 2025. Their visit came a week after a whistleblower told MailOnline that the Games is in ‘turmoil’ after two of its most senior executives were ‘dismissed for no apparent reason’ with just over a year to go.
Others in the VIP box with Meghan and Harry were local Indigenous leaders, British Columbia Premier David Eby and the region’s Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sports Minister, Lana Popham. There were Invictus Games staff with them and three indigenous group leaders. Chief Wayne Sparrow, from the Musqueam Indian Band, Wilson Williams, from the Squamish Nation and Chief Jennifer Thomas from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Meghan has long been associated with the Soho House properties due to her long-standing friendship with Markus Anderson, the lifestyle club chain’s Chief Membership Officer.
Mr Anderson was also at the Canucks game last night, at one point standing with the Duchess of Sussex to cheer the team. It was Anderson who arranged a private room at Soho House in London for the Montecito-based couple’s first date, while Meghan threw a low-key hen night ahead of her 2018 wedding at Soho Farmhouse in Chipping Norton, UK.
Markus is very good friends with New York-based fashion designer Misha Nonoo, who is said to have introduced Meghan and Harry to each other. Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, made the ceremonial puck drop at a 2002 match, also between the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks, during her two-week Golden Jubilee tour of Canada. It was the first NHL game the Queen had attended since 1951 when, still a princess, she and Prince Philip watched the Montreal Canadiens take on the New York Rangers.
NHL star Tomáš Hertl spoke after the game about the experience of meeting Harry. “I actually had to tell him [to drop the puck] because he keeps holding and smiling. I said, “it’s time to drop it”. But it’s a cool moment. For sure I will remember that one’. Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said he spoke to Prince Harry, who he hinted wasn’t sure about a fist bump. ‘I gave him a fist bump, I don’t know if you’re allowed to do that. I did it, he did it. He kind of looked at me but he did it,’ he said. The Sussexes’ sporting outing comes a few days after Meghan’s surprise arrival at the Variety Power Of Women event in Los Angeles to celebrate the accomplishments of women in entertainment.
The former Suits actress said she was ‘thrilled’ to have returned to the entertainment industry with Archewell Productions and is ‘really proud’ of the projects they have has created so far, including docu-series Harry & Meghan and Heart Of Invictus. She also teased future projects, saying: ‘We have so many exciting things on the slate… I can’t wait until we can announce them, but I’m just really proud of what we’re creating. My husband is loving it too which is really fun.’ Experts told MailOnline that they believe the flurry of A-list appearances is a PR ‘tactic’ to pitch for lucrative work and create a new buzz around Meghan, and her husband.
The Invictus Games will be held in Vancouver and Whistler in February 2025 and will feature winter sports for the first time. MailOnline exclusively revealed last week that CEO Peter Lawless, a lawyer and arguably Canada’s most respected Olympic and Paralympic administrator, left his job abruptly. An insider has claimed that Mr Lawless, who was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal by Harry’s grandmother the Queen in 2012, was fired and morale amongst staff is now ‘at an all time low’. An Invictus Games spokesman declined to comment on whether he was sacked, instead saying he had been ‘transitioned out’ and was ‘no longer an employee’ but will remain an ambassador.
Also leaving the Vancouver-Whistler team is Bill Cooper, who was in the role of Chief Commercial Officer for ten months until he left in October. He has thanked colleagues for their support after several praised his ‘grace’ and accused Invictus 2025 of making a big mistake by getting rid of him. One Games volunteer said that staff are ‘concerned that these recent moves will again overshadow this incredible event for our veterans’. They also raised concerns that the Sussexes’ security and other costs may put a strain on Games finances if Invictus 2025 has to pick up the bill. It came just two months after Harry and Meghan turned on the charm at a reception thrown by the Canadian delegation to promote the 2025 Invictus Games.
The Duchess of Sussex, 42, chatted with members of the committee that will be organising the games to be held in Vancouver – a city they know well having fled there in 2019 after quitting royal life. Meghan has close friends in the city and holds great affection for Canada having lived in Toronto while she was filming the series ‘Suits’. The couple are very familiar with Vancouver having temporarily moved there in 2019 when they split from the royal family. They stayed on Vancouver Island at a £14m home in North Saanich, British Columbia, following their decision to step back from being working members of the royal family.
The split was termed ‘Megxit’ and the couple stayed in Canada for several months before relocating to Montecito in California. Meghan chatted with many of the competitors who have taken part in the events in Dusseldorf. And for the first-time adaptive winter sports including alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and curling will be included in the programme of weeklong events and staged in the resort of Whistler. It is not yet clear if Invictus 2025 is looking for a new CEO and Chief Commercial Officer