St Helens women's RL ace Jodie Cunningham meets Prince Harry at RL World Cup draw

St Helens women's RL star Jodie Cunningham with The Duke of Sussex and  Jon Dutton (left), Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and children playing rugby in the Buckingham Palace gardens
St Helens women's RL star Jodie Cunningham with The Duke of Sussex and Jon Dutton (left), Chief Executive of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and children playing rugby in the Buckingham Palace gardens

The Duke of Sussex has joined players from across the globe at Buckingham Palace to host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLW2021) draw.


Harry is making his first appearance at an official event since he and wife Meghan plunged the monarchy into crisis by announcing they want to step back from their roles as senior royals, live part of the year in Canada and become financially independent.

The duke, who wore a suit, smiled and joked when he was welcomed by the RLW2021's chief executive officer Jon Dutton and its non-executive director Stuart Cain in the palace gardens.

The global tournament being staged by the UK is the pinnacle event for rugby league and will take place during October and November in 17 cities across England.

Harry was also introduced to two ambassadors for the global tournament - James Simpson, England and Leeds Rhino wheelchair rugby league star, and Jodie Cunningham, a rugby league player in the Women's Super League for St Helens.

In front of the group were 12 children from St Vincent de Paul Catholic primary school in Westminster, playing on a mini rugby pitch.

The youngsters are Westminster champions in tag rugby, a non-contact form of the game, for the last three years.

Mr Simpson made Harry laugh when he said "we started without you".

Harry chatted to the youngsters during a pause in their exhibition match and then the group posed for a photograph in front of a large group of photographers, cameramen and journalists.

One of the reporters shouted out a question to the duke who has had a turbulent week trying to resolve questions about his future role in the monarchy.

The reporter asked: "How are the discussions going on your future?"

Harry, who was making his way into the palace, only smiled at one of his entourage and did not reply.