Prince Harry returns to work after announcing decision to step back as senior royal

Prince Harry attends first public engagement since decision to step back

Meanwhile, Meghan Markle and son Archie are in Canada

Prince Harry has resumed duties following the announcement that he and wife Meghan Markle are stepping back as senior members of the royal family. The Duke of Sussex hosted the Rugby League World Cup Draw at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, January 16. In the morning, the dad of one met young boys and girls playing rugby in the gardens of the palace. As he retreated inside, the Duke joked, "Look after the grass though, yeah? Otherwise I'll get in trouble."

Prince Harry made his first public appearance following the royal summit to discuss his and Meghan’s future©Getty Images
Prince Harry made his first public appearance on Jan. 16 following the royal summit

Inside the Throne Room, the Rugby League World Cup 2021 groups were drawn. As he hosted the draw, the Duke said, “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...on the individuals playing with the community as a whole is remarkable.” He added, “Not only do I continue to see sport actually changing lives, but it's saving lives as well, so I think for me and... everybody in this room, whether it's rugby league, or sports in general... it needs to be in everybody's life if possible.”

Meghan’s husband succeeded Queen Elizabeth as patron of the Rugby Football League in December of 2016. Thursday’s engagement marked Harry’s first since the Duke and Duchess’ bombshell decision last week.

The Duke of Sussex hosted the Rugby League World Cup Draw at Buckingham Palace©Getty Images
The Duke of Sussex hosted the Rugby League World Cup Draw at Buckingham Palace

On Monday, Her Majesty held a summit with Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles to discuss the Sussexes’ future. After the meeting, Queen Elizabeth revealed that the conversations were “constructive.” In a statement she said, “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. 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 Sussexes will be balancing their time between the UK and Canada. The Duchess left the UK last Thursday to reunite with her son Archie, who stayed in Canada while Harry and Meghan carried out their first engagement of 2020 in London. The royal couple visited Canada House last Tuesday to thank the high commissioner and staff for the warm hospitality they received during their recent stay in the country.

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