Wednesday , January 22 2020
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Prince Harry appears in public for first time since announcing he and Meghan quit

Prince Harry put on a brave face as he made his first public appearance since he and Meghan quit – but dodged any questions about his future in what could be his last job as a senior royal.

The Duke of Sussex was at Buckingham Palace to launch the 2021 Rugby League World Cup where youngsters had the privilege of playing a match on Her Majesty’s lawn and Harry giggled as he was told: ‘We started without you’.

Hours earlier, with the abdication crisis rumbling on, he had released an online video urging men to avoid ‘grinning and bearing it’ and discuss their problems – in moving comments given his own family woes. 

Harry had looked serious and was glued to his phone as he was swept into his grandmother’s London home in his Jaguar with two personal bodyguards at around 11am.

The Duke also appeared stern as he was met in the Buckingham Palace garden by rugby league executives but his broad smile appeared and his face lit up as he checked his shoes for mud and the children asked him a series questions not picked up by microphones. He also told them: ‘Look after the grass – or I’ll get in trouble!’.

But he went quiet when the assembled royal media that he and Meghan despise asked how talks with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William about his future were going.

He appeared to laugh out loud about being asked and gave a look to one of his aides as he ignored the question, striding back into the palace without saying a word – a poignant end to what could be his swansong as a frontline royal before moving to North America.

He then helped carry out the draws for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in Britain – but in a carefully stage-managed event organisers ensured he was unable to draw Canada in the women’s event. 

Stood next to his rugby hero Jason Robinson and former Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger, now head of UK Sport, Harry did give a short speech, but didn’t mention his current woes, talking instead about the importance of sport and how good it is for mental health.

 

Harry managed to crack a wry smile after mixing the balls as he hosted the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws at Buckingham Palace in what could be his final full royal engagement in his current role

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Harry would later carry out the draws for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments – but was spared the embarrassment of pulling out Canada – the country he plans to move to

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Harry’s face lights up as he meets local children in the Buckingham Palace gardens  as he hosts the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws at his grandmother’s house

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Harry initially looked a tad stern or even nervous as he played with his wedding ring – but soon got into the swing of things as he met the youngsters enjoying a match

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Harry was also introduced to two ambassadors for the global tournament – James Simpson, England and Le Rhino wheelchair rugby league star, who made him laugh as he said: ‘We started without you’.

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Prince Harry in the Buckingham Palace gardens this morning – the first time he has been seen since he and Meghan quit as senior royals. Talks over their futures continue today

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The Duke of Sussex spoke to youngsters given the rare chance of playing rugby league on Her Majesty’s lawn

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Harry gave the children a thumbs up as he left and said: ‘Look after the grass – or I’ll get in trouble!’

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The Duke of Sussex was asked about his future with his wife and son in Canada but refused to answer before heading back into the palace

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He said: ‘First of all it’s an honour to be standing next to two sporting legends. From my perspective, from the experience I have had through my younger years, but also through Invictus and all the sporting events I am lucky enough to go to or watch, … the input is has on young people and the community as a whole is remarkable.

‘Not only do I continue to see sport changing lives, but it’s saving lives as well. Whether it’s rugby league or sport in general – everyone, given the opportunity, it ne to be in everyone’s life’.

Harry has kept a low profile and has locked down in Frogmore Cottage, Windsor, since he went ‘nuclear’ eight says ago and told the Queen he wants to step away from duties. He plans to emigrate with his wife and child to Canada – who are currently 5,000 miles away in Vancouver.

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The Duchess of Sussex enjoys coffee and makes notes as she meets with the Justice for Girls group in Canada yesterday

Meghan Markle has popped up again in Vancouver to support a feminist climate change group called ‘Justice for Girls’.

 

The Duchess of Sussex visited campaigners who said the former Suits star, who donned a cashmere sweater she wore on the show, discussed ‘issues affecting women‘ including how rising global temperatures and the justice system ‘disproportionately’ hits women and girls around the world.

Her latest appearance was on Tuesday afternoon, after she visited the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center in Vancouver by sea plane having lefty Archie with his nanny at the family‘s £10.

7million bolthole on Vancouver Island, but was only publicised on the ‘Justice for Girls’ Twitter account last night.  

Today it emerged she broke cover at the vulnerable women’s centre after a ‘mysterious’ email from a Hotmail account arrived asking if she could visit drop in.

It came from Meghan’s ‘assistant’ – not a royal aide, according to the centre’s boss Kate Gibson.   

And depending on whether a ‘Megxit’ deal on money, titles, duties and the Sussex brand can be struck with his grandmother, today‘s sport event is certainly his last date in the royal diary for the forseeable future.

 

Today he urged men suffering from mental health problems to avoid ‘grinning and bearing it’ ahead of his first major royal engagement since the bombshell last Wednesday.  The rugby league event was set up before Harry ‘went nuclear’.

Harry was at Buckingham Palace – the official residence of his grandmother the Queen, who has now sanctioned his decision – where he was hosting the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw.

Dozens of photographers lined a mini makeshift rugby pitch on the manicured lawns in the Palace garden, waiting for the duke to arrive.

Harry, dressed in a smart suit and tie, smiled and joked when he was welcomed by the RLW2021’s chief executive officer Jon Dutton and its non-executive director Stuart Cain in the palace gardens.

Children from a local school gave a rugby demonstration as Harry chatted enthusiastically to the executives.

The global tournament being staged by the UK is the pinnacle event for rugby league and will take place during October and November in 17 cities across England.

Harry was also introduced to two ambassadors for the global tournament – James Simpson, England and Le Rhino wheelchair rugby league star, and Jodie Cunningham, a rugby league player in the Women’s Super League for St Helens.

In front of the group were 12 children from St Vincent de Paul Catholic primary school in Westminster, playing on a mini rugby pitch.

The youngsters are Westminster champions in tag rugby, a non-contact form of the game, for the last three years.

Mr Simpson made Harry laugh when he said: ‘We started without you’.

One of the reporters shouted out a question to the duke who has had a turbulent week trying to resolve questions about his future role in the monarchy.

The reporter asked: ‘How are the discussions going on your future?’

Harry, who was making his way into the palace, only smiled at one of his entourage and did not reply.  

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Harry again looked serious during the World Cup draw where he spoke about the power of sport and its positive impact on mental health 

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Harry poses with St Vincent de Paul Catholic primary school in Westminster, playing on a mini rugby pitch in the Queen’s garden

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The Duke of Sussex took questions from the children – which were not recorded – before posing with the primary school children

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Harry corpsed after one asked by a young rugby player as the world watched his first royal engagement since he quit

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He was visibly enthusiastic when he met the children from Westminster before the draws for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments

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Harry looked serious during much of the photocall but did smile as he spoke to children and gave them a thumbs up

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The children – who are tag rugby champions – showed their skills to the impressed prince and dignitaries

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The Duke also launched his Mental Fitness Charter today – and rugby league bosses have signed up for their players

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As he entered the garden he again looked self-conscious as the world‘s media focussed on him after his abdication bombshell

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Prince Harry arrives at Buckingham Palace looking at his phone as he appears for the first time since quitting as a senior royal – and it could even be his swansong if no deal is struck with the Queen

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The prince arrived with his team at his grandmother’s London palace as he tries to cut a deal that will allow him to keep his royal status while living outside the UK for much of the year

Earlier today the Duke of Sussex made the impassioned plea for men to talk about depression just days after a crisis summit with the Queen at Sandringham in the wake of his decision to quit senior royal duties and move to North America.

 

In what could be his final official engagement before joining Meghan Markle and baby Archie in Canada, Harry said: ‘It is not just about being physically fit but more importantly mentally strong. 

‘The perception of rugby league is that you need to be tough.

 You can’t show your feelings, you need to grin and bear it. 

‘But something like the Mental Fitness Charter will help us make real progress in getting rid of the stigma associated with mental illness,’ he said in a video message for start of a mental health initiative at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup launch.

The prince added: ‘So, I am proud to support the Rugby League World Cup 2021 Mental Fitness Charter.

‘This Charter will build on the brilliant work already happening in rugby league by committing to training and educating all those involved in the tournament, and the wider rugby league family, not only in how they can look after their own mental fitness but also support others to do the same.

‘ 

Yesterday the Duke posted an Invictus Games video to announce that the ‘story continues’ with Dusseldorf in Germany hosting his charity sports competition for wounded veterans in 2022.   

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In what could be his final official engagement before joining Meghan Markle and baby Archie in Canada, Harry said: ‘It is not just about being physically fit but more importantly mentally strong’

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Meghan Markle visiting the Justice for Girls group in Canada yesterday, after she was previously seen visiting another women’s rights group in Vancouver

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Harry’s appearance followed the first sighting of Meghan since the Sandringham summit.

 

The Duchess, who was absent from the meeting, was seen smiling as she boarded a sea plane on Vancouver Island in Canada yesterday.

The Queen had revealed in a deeply personal statement that she had agreed for Harry and Meghan to begin a ‘new life’ as an ‘independent’ family, a move which Meghan is understood to have pushed for just 20 months after their wedding.

Prince Harry is expected to remain in the UK into early next week to hammer out the details of this unprecedented arrangement before heading back to join Meghan and Archie in Canada where they have been staying at the £10.7 million mansion where the family spent Christmas.

The Queen is said to have pressed for her officials find a solution to this abdication crisis within days, however, royal experts say it will take far longer. 

The Queen had written in her statement: ‘These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.

‘  

The extraordinary meeting convened by the Queen was attended by Prince Charles and Prince William, while Meghan was in Canada with Archie.

There was speculation she had been barred from dialling in on the meeting from Vancouver for security reasons, however Palace sources have said the Sussexes decided themselves ‘it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join.

Following the summit, Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Sussexes were to have a ‘transition period’ and split their time between the UK and Canada

It is not clear how long this period will last, not least because of the complexities involved in their living ‘independent’ of the public purse.

The security bill alone for the Sussexes is estimated at around £1million per annum, meanwhile Harry is thought to draw a salary somewhere in the region of £2.3million each year from his father’s estate, the Duchy of Cornwall.

It also emerged yesterday that Meghan’s father could be a ‘star witness’ when the Duchess takes on Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, at the High Court.

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Meghan is seen for the first time since ‘Megxit’ in Vancouver on Tuesday boarding a sea plane. There was speculation Meghan was barred from dialling in on Monday’s Sandringham summit for security reasons, however Palace sources have said the Sussexes thought ‘it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join’

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Ahead of the Sandringham summit it was reported that Prince Harry and his wife had felt ‘bullied’ by Prince William, a claim which was strenuously denied by the brothers in a joint statement (pictured: the Sussexes and the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in 2018). But there is a rift between the siblings, according to various sources

.