Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex gestures during the draw for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 at Buckingham Palace in London on January 16, 2019.
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex gestures during the draw for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 at Buckingham Palace in London on January 16, 2019.
Photo by Jeremy Selwyn / POOL / AFP

London: Britain's Prince Harry on Thursday hosted a special sports event at Buckingham Palace here, his first official engagement since he and wife Meghan Markle announced their bombshell decision to split from the UK royal household and "step back" as its senior members.

The 35-year-old Duke of Sussex met with young rugby players in the palace gardens as part of the draw of Rugby League World Cup 2021, which he is hosting, involving representatives of the participating nations.

"Not only do I continue to see sport actually changing lives, but it's saving lives as well. Whether it's rugby league or sport in general... it needs to be in everybody's life," Harry said at the event, where he was joined by ex-England player Jason Robinson. His hosting of the Rugby League World Cup draws for the men's, women's and wheelchair tournaments, forms part of his role as Patron of the Rugby Football League. The tournament runs from October 23 to November 27, 2021 in 17 cities across England, with 16 men's, eight women's and eight wheelchair teams taking part.

Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, just laughed away a question shouted out by a reporter on how talks on his future were going.

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