Prince Harry Makes First Public Appearance Since He and Meghan Markle Announce Step Back From Royal Duties

Prince Harry made his first public appearance Thursday since he and wife Meghan Markle announced their plan to step back from their royal duties last week. The 35-year-old was at Buckingham Palace to launch the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, where young players competed in a match on the lawn and where he announced the draw for the tournament.

prince-harry_getty-ADRIAN DENNIS : Contributor
(Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS / Contributor / Getty, Getty)

Harry avoided answering questions about his future at the event, which came just after he released an online video urging men to avoid "grinning and bearing it" and to embrace their mental health.

In photos, Harry could be seen in the palace gardens speaking to the young rugby players and giving them a thumbs up.

Ahead of the World Cup draw, Harry introduced a new initiative to champion the importance of mental health for those who play rugby. The initiative combines the sport with mental health awareness at a time when suicide is the leading cause of death for men between the ages of 20 and 49 in the U.K.

Harry also recently launched the next leg of the Invictus Games for wounded service personnel and veterans, which he has been a longtime supporter of. The next event will be held in Dusseldorf in 2022.

"I hope everyone in Germany is ready for what will be an incredible week of sport!" Harry said in the video shared to his and Markle's Instagram. "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."

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Here we come Düsseldorf 🇩🇪! The new home for the 2022 and sixth Invictus Games. Having previously been held in London, Orlando, Toronto, Sydney, and upcoming The Hague this year in May - Düsseldorf will welcome over 500 competitors as they showcase their talents, determination and camaraderie to the world! The #InvictusGames is an international adaptive multi-sport event, created by The Duke of Sussex, in which wounded, injured or sick (WIS) armed services personnel and veterans show the world what they’re capable of in a series of adaptive sports, ranging from wheelchair basketball to indoor rowing. The Duke, having spent 10 years serving in the Armed Forces, set up the @WeAreInvictusGames to celebrate the power of sport rehabilitation (both physically and mentally) and to generate a wider appreciation for those who served their country beyond their time in uniform. Participating in the Games plays a significant part in the recovery journey of WIS Servicemen and women. It doesn’t just heal the individual, it heals the whole family. • “I hope everyone in Germany is ready for what will be an incredible week of sport! 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.” – The Duke of Sussex For more information of the announcement, visit https://invictusgamesfoundation.org/ig2022-announcement/ Video © @WeAreInvictusGames

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

Harry is expected to carry on as normal, with no immediate plans to be reunited with Markle, who traveled to Canada after the couple released their statement announcing their wish to step back from royal duties. Harry is set to carry on meetings into next week, Britain's Press Association reported.

Harry, Prince William, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II met earlier this week for a summit regarding Harry and Markle's future, and came to an agreement that there would be "a period of transition" to sort out the complicated nature of how to be a part-time royal.

Markle, Harry and their son Archie will spend time in both North America and the U.K. as things are sorted out.

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Markle was also seen at her first public appearance since last week's drama. The Duchess of Sussex was seen Tuesday at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she reportedly discussed issues affecting women in the community. Kate Gibson, the center’s acting director, said Markle "was just casual and lovely."

"She just wants to get to know the community. We know she's going to come to Canada and I think possibly the West Coast," Gibson told CBC News. "I think that she just doesn't want to be sort of a stranger in the midst. She just wants to get to know people."