Prince Harry has completed his final public appearance before he and wife Meghan step back from senior royal duties.
- Prince Harry was at the draw for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which will be played in the UK
- Wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is already in Canada with their son, Archie
- Prince Harry is expected to be in the UK for a little while longer as the details of his transition are worked out
In his role as patron of the Rugby Football League, Prince Harry was present at Buckingham Palace for the draw of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which will be played in the United Kingdom.
It was his first public appearance since Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the wishes of her grandson and his wife Meghan to reduce their royal roles and seek a more independent future.
The World Cup draw was the last scheduled engagement for Prince Harry, sixth-in-line to the throne, before he and Meghan begin a “period of transition” to their new roles.
Last week, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex sparked a crisis in the British monarchy by announcing they wanted to reduce their royal duties and spend more time in North America, while also becoming financially independent.
The public announcement caught the rest of the royal family by surprise and left the Queen and other senior Windsors hurt and disappointed, according to royal sources.
After a family summit on Monday at her Sandringham estate attended by the Queen, Prince Harry, elder brother Prince William and his father and heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, it was agreed that the couple would split their time between Britain and Canada.
“Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family,” the 93-year-old monarch said in a rare, personal statement.
The couple have said they want a “progressive” new role for themselves and the ability to fund themselves.
Currently they are not allowed to seek private income and most of their money comes from the private estate of Harry’s father.
Meghan is currently with son Archie in Canada, where she has carried out a couple of low-key events this week.
Media reported Harry would stay in Britain for meetings next week as details about their future are hammered out before joining her.
On Wednesday, Harry, who served for a decade in the British army, published a video to announce the location of the next Invictus Games sporting event for wounded military personnel, indicating he would still give his support to causes he feels strongly about.
He was also part of the announcement that the Rugby League World Cup would become the first major global sporting event to have its own mental fitness charter.
“Rugby league isn’t just a sport, it’s a community, and one that takes care of its own,” he said.
“For many years, it has been at the forefront of promoting and supporting good mental fitness, working hard to build a positive mindset for everyone involved in the sport.”
As one of the world’s most glamorous couples, Harry and Meghan have struggled with intense media scrutiny, with Harry describing some coverage of Meghan as bullying, akin to the treatment his mother Princess Diana endured before her death in a 1997 car crash.
Some observers have criticised British media for racism in its coverage of Meghan, whose mother is African-American.
This week, the Mail on Sunday newspaper submitted its defence to court action by Meghan over the publication of a private letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle. The case could see Mr Markle testify against her.
“There is a huge and legitimate public interest in the royal family and the activities, conduct and standards of behaviour of its members,” lawyers for the paper said in documents submitted to London’s High Court.