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Prince Harry seen for 1st time since royal bombshell announcement

Harry appeared at a rugby event at Buckingham Palace, three days after meeting with the royal family to discuss his future role.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Prince Harry made his first public appearance on Thursday since dropping the bombshell last week that he and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, were looking to “step back” from their royal duties.

Harry hosted the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws for the men's, women's and wheelchair tournaments at Buckingham Palace in his duty as patron of the Rugby Football League.

The Duke of Sussex took over as patron in 2016 for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, after she held the role for 64 years. The Rugby League World Cup 2021 program helps fund local organizations in lower-income areas of England to improve their facilities and develop initiatives covering health, culture and education.

Harry was all smiles as he fulfilled his duties as the patron of the Rugby Football League during an event at Buckingham Palace. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

He met with representatives from the 21 countries playing in the tournament and also watched a rugby match between children from a local school in the Buckingham Palace gardens.

Harry met with representatives from the 21 countries that will be competing in the Rugby League World Cup 2021 tournament. Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Local school children played a rugby match at Buckingham Palace prior to the draw for the Rugby League World Cup 2021. Adrian Dennis / Getty Images

Harry's appearance came two days after his wife, the former Meghan Markle, was photographed boarding a sea plane in Canada, where the royal couple plans to live for at least part of the year, in the first confirmed spotting of the Duchess of Sussex since the stunning announcement.

The duchess also made an appearance Tuesday at Justice for Girls, an organization dedicated to equality for women that works to eliminate violence and poverty in young women’s lives.

The organization posted photos of Twitter of Meghan meeting with a group of young girls. The Duchess of Sussex has made feminism and empowerment of women a central theme of her work since she has been in the spotlight after joining the royal family.

"Yesterday, The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle visited to discuss climate justice for girls and the rights of Indigenous peoples,'' the organization wrote. "Was great to talk about the importance of a holistic approach to social justice, and the power of young women’s leadership."

Harry's appearance comes just three days after his meeting at the Sandringham estate with the queen, Prince Charles and Prince William, as they worked to hammer out what the future for the royal couple will look like. The Duchess of Sussex did not join the meeting via phone from Canada as planned, a palace official told NBC News on Tuesday.