It was a great surprise for the 12,000 fans who congregated to watch the England rugby team train at Twickenham Stadium on Friday, as an extra pair of royal eyes joined in the spectacle.
Prince Harry, dressed in a navy suit and blue shirt, emerged from the tunnel as the young crowds- mostly from local schools and clubs- took their seats ahead of the open session in London.
His Royal Highness chatted to young rugby fans and met Old Mutual Wealth Kids First Champions from Didcot RFC, chosen from groups around the country to form a Guard of Honour for the England team. He later took to the pitch to talk to England coaches and players, including manager Richard Hill, head coach Eddie Jones and captain Dylan Hartley.
A huge England supporter, Harry recently took over from the Queen as patron of the Rugby Football Union, while Prince William stepped into his new role as patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.
Hill lauded the 32-year-old royal for supporting the players in his first official engagement as the new patron.
“He knows the players well,’’ the 2003 World Cup winner said. ‘’Usually, he will come into the changing rooms and talk to the players.
“I think it’s important for the team that they have a patron who interacts with the group.”
Before leaving, the fifth to the throne caught up with a young girl who suffered a life-changing injury while playing rugby. He also chatted to Laura Wicks, the former England trialist who sustained a brain injury in similar circumstances in 2003.
The training session comes as England look to continue their unbeaten run in this year’s Six Nations when they meet Italy at Twickenham on 26 February. They have started their title defence campaign with wins over France and Wales.
Harry is expected to attend one of the Six Nation games this season, with a fixture yet to be confirmed.