Thursday, 16 January 2020

Prince forces a smile as he faces the cameras at Buckingham Palace for Rugby League World Cup draw

Prince Harry today raced through his first public appearance since he and Meghan quit - dodging any questions about their future at a highly-orchestrated Buckingham Palace event that could be his last job as a senior royal.  

The Duke of Sussex launched the 2021 Rugby League World Cup and betrayed little sign of the abdication turmoil that has engulfed him and caused major tensions with his 93-year-old grandmother, his father Prince Charles and brother Prince William. 

Harry had looked serious and was glued to his phone as he was swept into the palace in his Jaguar at around 11am - hours after he released an online video urging men to avoid 'grinning and bearing it' - in moving comments given his own family woes. 

The Duke also appeared stern as he arrived in the garden but his face lit up as he watched children from a nearby school play tag rugby on the Queen's lawn and giggled as he was told: 'We started without you'. He joked back: 'Look after the grass though, yeah? Otherwise I'll get in trouble'.  

Then he appeared to laugh out loud when the assembled royal media, which he and Meghan despise, asked how talks about his future were going.  He ignored the question, striding back into the palace without saying a word - a poignant end to what could be his swansong as a frontline royal before moving to North America. 

It was only when he was inside, away from media questions, he relaxed and clowned about, even indulging in banter with Australian comedian Adam Hills, who Harry told: 'Your beard is fantastic. It is so beautiful. I've never seen that. And I've seen some beards'. 

And the sports-mad prince later played to the crowd during the tournament's draw, making the crowd laugh out loud as he turned his back while swirling the balls as he picked his beloved England's opponents - to prove he wasn't cheating.  

But organisers helped him avoid an awkward photo opportunity by ensuring he was unable to draw Canada in the women's event, the country he plans to move to and where Meghan and Archie are already living for the foreseeable future.


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