Prince Harry to carry out first public engagement since royal crisis

Lucia Binding, news reporter

Prince Harry is to conduct his first public engagement since unveiling plans that he and his wife Meghan will be stepping back as senior royals, sparking a royal crisis.

The Duke of Sussex will host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw at Buckingham Palace on Thursday and will meet with representatives from all 21 nations participating.

He will then remain in the UK into next week, despite rumours he was preparing to fly to Canada to join Meghan and their eight-month-old son Archie.

This morning, he released a new video on social media, launching the Rugby League's 'mental fitness charter' for the 2021 world cup. It is the second video he has done in 24 hours - the first was to promote his Invictus Games.

Meanwhile, new pictures have emerged of Meghan in Canada, visiting a women's project in Vancouver, where she is said to have discussed the climate, social justice and young women's leadership. Earlier in the day she had been to visit a women's centre.

On Monday, the Queen - in a bid to take back control of the situation - approved of Harry and Meghan's desire to step back from their royal duties, as well as split their time between the UK and Canada and become financially independent.

Harry was reported to be staying in the UK to hold further discussions about his future role in the Royal Family, though the Palace has not released any updates since the Queen's personal statement on Monday.

"The duke has some meetings here early next week", a source told the PA news agency.

The Duchess of Sussex has since returned to Canada to be with Archie, who is said to have stayed there with a nanny when she and Harry travelled to the UK.

On Tuesday, she visited a women's shelter in Vancouver to discuss issues that impact women directly.

An image of Meghan posing with staff members was posted on Facebook following the engagement, which was her first since last week's announcement.

On Wednesday, the duchess visited the charity Justice For Girls to discuss issues including the rights of indigenous peoples and the power of young women's leadership.

But while Meghan has been warmly welcomed by those she has been pictured with in Canada, one of the country's biggest newspapers has said she and Harry should not be allowed to make their move permanent.

An editorial in The Globe and Mail says it would impinge upon the "Canadian monarchy", adding: "Our royals don't live here. They reign from a distance."

Urging Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to deny any residence bid by the couple, the paper says: "The concept of the Crown is at the centre of the Canadian system of government.

"But though Canada borrowed from Britain, it isn't Britain and never was. And this country long ago took steps to make that unmistakably clear.

"Canada is not a halfway house for anyone looking to get out of Britain while remaining a royal. In response to the sudden announcement of a vague and evolving plan for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to move to Canada while remaining part of the royal family, the Trudeau government's response should be simple and succinct: No."

Meanwhile, a legal document submitted to the High Court by the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline was published in response to Meghan's legal action over an article featuring parts of a handwritten letter to her father that was published in February 2019.

The documents revealed that her father, Thomas Markle, could testify against her in her legal battle with The Mail on Sunday as he forms part of the newspaper's defence.

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Harry's official engagement on Thursday will see him host the Rugby League World Cup draws for the men's, women's and wheelchair tournaments, which will be livestreamed across the Royal Family and Rugby League World Cup 2021 Twitter and Facebook channels.

The world cup tournament runs from 23 October to 27 November 2021 in 17 cities across England, with 16 men's, eight women's and eight wheelchair teams from 21 nations taking part.

Sky's royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills said: "It's going to be fascinating to see what he’s like today."

She said Harry "in the past has been great fun to cover when it comes to his engagements - he's always been really lively, exciting and made an effort to engage with us".

Mills added: "In essence it is all terribly sad really to see that he's stepping away from what he thought was a really important part of his life. Service, duty and serving his grandmother was always important and we wait to see what exactly is going to happen going forward."

On Wednesday the duke also launched the next leg of his Invictus Games, for wounded and injured service personnel and veterans, and shared an Instagram video announcing the event will be held in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 2022.

In the clip posted on the official sussexroyal account, Harry said: "I hope everyone in Germany is ready for what will be an incredible week of sport!

"I have no doubt that the German public will get right behind these Games and that every single competitor can expect a warm welcome and an amazing atmosphere."

The duke and duchess have dropped their claim to be "internationally protected people" from their website, suggesting there may be an issue over their round-the-clock security funded by the taxpayer now they are stepping back from their royal duties.