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Prince Harry makes first public appearance since stepping back as senior royal - best photos

The Duchess of Sussex and baby Archie are currently in Canada

harry rugby
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
Updated: January 16, 2020
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The Duke of Sussex made his first public appearance on Thursday since he and wife Meghan announced they are stepping back as senior members of the royal family. Prince Harry, 35, hosted the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws for the men's, women's and wheelchair tournaments at Buckingham Palace. He was announced as Patron of the Rugby Football League in December 2016, succeeding the Queen who previously held the role for 64 years.

The Duchess of Sussex returned to Canada to be with eight-month-old son Archie, before Harry met with the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge to discuss their future roles during a meeting in Sandringham on Monday. Meghan, 38, was pictured in the province of British Columbia, where she carried out private visits to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre and Justice For Girls charities in Vancouver. Both organisations shared photos of the Duchess following her meetings.

Harry and Meghan plan to split their time between the UK and North America, as they carve out their new roles. Following the Sandringham summit, the Queen has asked for "final decisions to be reached in the coming days."

See the best photos from Harry's engagement in our gallery...

READ: Prince Harry prolongs stay in the UK while Meghan Markle and baby Archie remain in Canada

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Prior to the draws, Harry met with representatives from all 21 nations taking part in the tournament, as well as watch children from a local school play rugby league in the Buckingham Palace gardens. 

MORE: Prince Harry makes special announcement amid royal crisis

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Children from St Vincent de Paul Catholic Primary School joined the Rugby League World Cup ambassadors in the palace grounds for a game of tag rugby league. 

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Harry was on a good form as he chatted to schoolchildren. 

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Posing for a team picture, he teased the children, saying: "Some of you are really warm ... Some of you haven't been running around."

As he headed inside, he quipped: "Look after the grass though, yeah? Otherwise I'll get in trouble."

MORE: Meghan Markle pictured on secret visit as she embarks on new life in Canada

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Harry spoke about sport having the power to save lives as he hosted the draw. The Duke said: "Certainly the experience that I've had in my younger years but also through Invictus, and all of the sporting events that I'm lucky enough to be able to go to or watch, the impact that it has, especially on young people, ... on the individuals playing with the community as a whole is remarkable.

"Not only do I continue to see sport actually changing lives, but it's saving lives as well, so I think for me and... everybody in this room, whether it's rugby league, or sports in general... it needs to be in everybody's life if possible."

harry rugby draw© Photo: Getty Images

The Duke pulled the first ball, which decided the opening game for the England's men's team and the country picked was Samoa.

For Harry's second pick, more balls were added to the bowl in front of him and he made officials and guests laugh by turning his back to look away as he stirred the balls before selecting.

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