Prince Harry Laughs off Question About His Future in First Public Appearance Since Announcement

Prince Harry laughed off questions about his and Meghan Markle's future during his first official appearance since he and his wife announced that they are stepping back from their roles as senior royals. After meeting with Prince William, Prince Charles, and Queen Elizabeth II earlier this week to discuss the details of the transition, the Duke of Sussex appeared Thursday at Buckingham Palace to launch the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, an organization for which he was announced as patron for in December 2016.

At one point during the outing, Harry was asked about his future given the recent announcement, with one reporter, according to PEOPLE, asking the duke, "how are the discussions going on your future?"

Sources at the palace claim that Harry avoided giving a direct answer by laughing off the question.

Ahead of draws streamed live across the Royal Family and Rugby League World Cup 2021 Twitter and Facebook channels, the Duke met with representatives from the 21 nations taking part in the tournament and also watched local school children play rugby league in the Buckingham Palace gardens.

Later in the day, Harry opened up about the impact rugby had on him, stating that from his "younger years but also through Invictus [Games]..the impact that it has on individuals playing but the community as a whole is remarkable."

"And not only do I continue to see sport actually changing lives but it's saving lives as well," he continued. "For me, and many of you guys as well, whether it is Rugby League or sport in general, everyone given the opportunity it needs to be in everyone's life if possible."

The father of one's outing came just days after he and Markle announced their intentions to "step back" as senior members of the royal family, a decision they came to "after many months of reflection and internal discussions."

Hoping to become "financially independent," the couple will split their time between the United Kingdom and North America, allowing them to continue "to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages," raise their son "with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born," and also provide their family "with the space to focus on the next chapter."

Although reports have surfaced suggesting that the announcement has not settled well with other members of the royal family, Queen Elizabeth expressed her support for the couple in a statement released on Monday, Jan. 13.

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"Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family," the monarch's statement began. "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."

Markle has since returned to Canada to be with son Archie. Harry is expected to join them in the coming days.