Prince Harry: Buckingham Palace appearance felt like the end of an era

Rhiannon Mills, royal correspondent

It felt like a real moment for Prince Harry as we were standing in the gardens at Buckingham Palace.

I've been to hundreds of events just like this one. But how many royal events will he do like this?

It's the only one scheduled to take place since the Queen agreed to this period of transition, where Harry and Meghan will split their lives between the UK and Canada.

He was on good form as he talked to a group of schoolchildren playing rugby. He seemed surprisingly relaxed, and laughed as he told them to make sure they didn't mess up the lawn too much because he'd get in trouble, alluding to the fact they were having a knockaround in the Queen's back garden.

There was the topic that we know has upset the Queen that he was keen to avoid. When a reporter inevitably shouted "how are the discussions about your future going?" Harry just laughed. He was never going to answer.

It's always been an issue for the royals, trying to make sure their private lives don't overshadow events. The Rugby League World Cup draw that he was taking part in probably got more attention because of the extra interest in their patron, even though he was trying his best at all times to stick to the safe subject of sport.

But we couldn't help wonder if this would be the last time we'd see him at a royal engagement like this.

He's already said on the Sussex Royal website that he no longer wants the royal press pack to cover the events that him and the duchess are going to do in the future, instead they'll invite "grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists" and "invite specialist media".

I couldn't help but think of the numerous tours I've done with him and the countless visits I've covered. The majority of the time he always great to report on.

Passionate about the projects he was visiting, he'd always speak up so our cameras could hear what he was saying, he'd come over to us and flag up people who had good stories to tell, and when it came to group photos he'd make sure they were always in the best place possible, knowing how much that photo might mean to the project he was visiting.

The international interest in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is so huge there will be no shortage of people wanting to report on them, but if they hope a step away from traditional media will protect them from the negative headlines I fear they will be sadly disappointed.

You just had to look at the number of reporters standing outside Buckingham Palace today to see the global fascination in the couple isn't dying down, and that is impossible for them to control.

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The fascination in the couple has only been fuelled further by the fact that it's still unclear how this new independent life is going to work.

Palace staff and civil servants are still under orders from the Queen to get final answers in days and not weeks.

As Meghan has been out in Canada, laying down roots by visiting women's groups in Vancouver, we now know that Harry is staying back in the UK for at least a few more days with meetings to attend next week.

But today did feel like the end of an era, as we still wait to see how this will all work out for this once playful prince.