LONDON — Prince Harry made his first official appearance after he and his wife, Meghan, plunged the monarchy into crisis by announcing they wanted to step down from their roles as “senior royals.”
Taking on his first royal duties since the pivotal talks with Queen Elizabeth II on their future role, he joined players from across the world at Buckingham Palace to host the draw for the Rugby League World Cup 2021.
Harry watched an exhibition match between a group of children from a nearby primary school, before posing for a picture in front of a large group of photographers, journalists and camera crews.
As he made his way into the palace, one reporter shouted: “How are the discussions going on your future?”
Harry did not reply.
Rugby League is a full contact sport, played by teams of 13 players each. Like the NFL, points are scored by carrying the ball beyond the opposing team’s goal line to score a "try." Points can also be scored by kicking goals.
The sport's showpiece event will take place in cities across England with 16 men's, eight women's and eight wheelchair teams taking part.
Ahead of the start of the draw, Harry was asked about the impact of sport on people’s lives.
"Certainly the experience that I've had in my younger years but also through Invictus, and all of the sporting events that I'm lucky enough to be able to go to or watch, the impact that it has, especially on young people, but the impact it has on the individuals playing with the community as a whole is remarkable,” he replied.
Harry was referring to the Invictus Games, the international Paralympic-style competition for veterans that he founded.
"Not only do I continue to see sport actually changing lives, but it's saving lives as well,” he added.
Ahead of his appearance, he released two video statements on the Sussex Royal Instagram page, championing mental health for those who play rugby and launching the 2022 Invictus Games in the German city of Dusseldorf.
"I have no doubt that the German public will get right behind these games and that every single competitor can expect a warm welcome and an amazing atmosphere,” he said.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced earlier this month that they wanted to “step back” as senior members of the Royal Family. The couple said they had taken the decision after “many months of reflection.”
It was not known when Harry will reunite with Meghan, who traveled to Canada after the couple announced their intentions.
After the queen brokered a deal Monday that determined there would be "a period of transition" to sort out the couple’s future, she confirmed that Harry and Meghan would split their time between the two countries.