Prince Harry on first royal duty since talks with Queen

The Duke of Sussex is to carry out his first public engagement since he and the Duchess of Sussex announced they want to step back as full-time royals.

Prince Harry will host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw at Buckingham Palace later on Thursday morning.

He will meet representatives of the 21 nations taking part and local children playing rugby.

Meghan and the couple’s son Archie are in Canada but Harry will reportedly stay in the UK for meetings next week.

Talks involving the Queen, Prince Harry, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge to discuss the couple’s future were held on Monday at the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

The Queen released a statement agreeing to their wish to step back as senior royals, become financially independent and to split their time between the UK and Canada.

The Duke of Cambridge did not mention the talks during his first official engagement of the year, on a visit to Bradford with the Duchess of Cambridge.

Meghan flew to Canada to join eight-month-old Archie ahead of the meeting.

On Tuesday the duchess visited a charity in Vancouver which campaigns for teenage girls living in poverty.

Justice for Girls said Meghan visited to “discuss climate justice for girls and the rights of indigenous peoples”.

Meghan also visited the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre in Vancouver.

The centre posted a photograph on Facebook of the duchess with staff and visitors, with a caption which said they had talked about “issues affecting women in the community”.

It came as a legal document was submitted to the High Court in London by the Mail on Sunday, outlining its response to Meghan’s legal action over its publication of extracts from a private letter she wrote to her father.

Prince Harry’s official engagement at Buckingham Palace will see him host the Rugby League World Cup draws for the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments.

Before the draw, the duke – the patron of the Rugby Football League since December 2016 – will watch children from a local school play rugby in the palace gardens.

The world cup tournament runs from 23 October to 27 November 2021 in 17 cities across England, with 16 men’s, eight women’s and eight wheelchair teams taking part.

The draw will be streamed live on BBC Sport.

Kevin Sinfield, former rugby league England captain and Leeds Rhinos director of rugby, said Prince Harry has been “fantastic for the sport”.

“His enthusiasm, his energy, his engagement with young people in particular, has been outstanding,” he told BBC Breakfast.

Mr Sinfield said the Royal Family had helped to “massively” improve openness about mental health in rugby league, adding that Harry had “really driven this”.

In a video message the prince said he was “proud” to support the tournament’s decision to adopt a mental fitness charter – a programme including workshops for 8,000 young players and their families.

Mr Sinfield added: “To have a real figurehead involved in it who’s championing it left right and centre is only going to do good things.”

There has been speculation Prince Harry would travel to Canada after the draw but a source quoted by the Press Association said: “The duke has some meetings here early next week.”

On Wednesday evening, Prince Harry launched the next leg of his Invictus Games, for wounded and injured service personnel and veterans, with an Instagram video.

The prince said he was looking forward to an “amazing atmosphere” in host city Dusseldorf, Germany, at the sixth edition of the tournament in 2022.

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