Prince Harry admitted the only reason he has stayed away for so long is because of COVID-19, which has resulted in tight restrictions on foreign travel, and "definitely would have been back" had it not been for the pandemic.
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Speaking during a Zoom call with staff and volunteers from the Rugby Football League to mark the sport's 125th birthday, Harry vowed to return to the UK for the world cup next year.
"We've got a whole Rugby League World Cup coming next year," Harry said from his £11.2million Santa Barbara mansion. "I definitely plan on coming back. I would have been back already had it not been for COVID."
The Rugby World Cup is set to take place in England between 23 October and 27 November next year.
Prince Harry hosted a Zoom quiz to mark the Rugby Football League's 125th birthday
Harry's admission comes as he joined players, coaches and volunteers from the game to host a special virtual Zoom quiz to mark the sport's birthday.
Harry expressed his love for the game and admiration for the way Rugby League people have come together during the pandemic "as a family". He also pointed out how the sport has thrived over 125 years.
Prince Harry is patron of the Rugby Football League
He said: "Watching Rugby League is exhausting. Listen I spent ten years in the army, I know what endurance is all about. But it's madness.
"Full respect to anyone that plays the game, I think it's amazing, and a lot of people would be jealous not to be part of that community."
Harry, who is patron of the Rugby Football League, continued: "It can bring so many families together, bring so many people together. It doesn't matter whether you're in the stands, whether you're the groundsman, whether you're a player, whether you're a fan, or whether you're a first-time watcher, every single person is bound by this family feeling."
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