Prince Harry discusses mental health as he carries out first engagement since royal announcement

Sabrina Barr
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The Duke of Sussex has championed the importance of mental health awareness in sport as part of his first public engagement since his and the Duchess of Sussex’s recent announcement.

Last week, the royal couple shared a statement outlining their plans to step down as “senior” members of the royal family.

Just over a week since their news made headlines across the globe, Prince Harry is to carry out his first official solo engagement, hosting the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw at Buckingham Palace.

The duke, who is patron of the Rugby Football League, will meet representatives from all 21 nations taking part as he hosts the draws for the women’s, men’s and wheelchair tournaments at the world cup, which is due to take place in England.

Social media users will be able to watch the draws live from the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the royal family and the Rugby League World Cup.

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 has announced plans to launch a “mental fitness charter” for the event, making it the first global sporting tournament to do so.

The five-point mental health initiative will be implemented to educate players, officials and volunteers on how they can take care of their mental health and the mental health of others.

The charter will provide mental health awareness workshops for 8,000 rugby league players and their families, in addition to training for grass roots coaches so that they can offer mental fitness workshops to players outside of the world cup.

The duke offered his support for the initiative in a video released to mark the mental fitness charter launch, emphasising that Rugby League “isn’t just a sport, it’s a community”.

“For many years, it has been at the forefront of promoting and supporting good mental fitness, working hard to build a positive mindset for everyone involved in the sport,” the 35-year-old said in the video.

“This charter will build on the brilliant work already happening in rugby league by committing to training and educating all those involved in the tournament, and the wider rugby league family, not only in how they can look after their own mental fitness but also support others to do the same.”

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 isn’t the only sporting event able to boast Prince Harry’s involvement this week.

On Wednesday, the duke announced plans for the 2022 Invictus Games by releasing a video on his and the duchess’ Instagram account.

The event is due to take place in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Prince Harry has spoken out about mental health awareness on several occasions in the past.

In September 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex discussed the stigma that continues to surround mental health issues while visiting Monwabisi Beach in Cape Town, South Africa as part of their royal tour of southern Africa.

A month later, Prince Harry teamed up with singer Ed Sheeran to release a mock video in support of World Mental Health Day.

On Monday, following talks at Sandringham with Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry, the Queen released a statement saying she and the royal family are “entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family”.

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