The Duke of Sussex travelled to Luton today to visit Lealands High School. His visit was to mark the school becoming the 750th school to join the Rugby Football Union All Schools programme, as well as to learn more about the programme itself.
Prince Harry is patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and its All School’s programme, which began in September 2012 as part of the Rugby World Cup 2015 Legacy Programme. The 2015 Rugby World Cup was held in the UK and saw many members of the Royal Family attend, with Harry being the central Royal connected to the event. The aim of the programme was to increase the number of secondary state schools playing rugby and to encourage new players to join local clubs.
The programme allows The Duke to combine his passion for rugby with the work he does helping children and young people to build their skills, confidence and aspirations through sport.
Harry was not the only visitor to the school: he was joined by students and representatives from four other local schools – Challney Boys School, The Chiltern Academy, Lea Manor High School and Stopsley High School – who are also on the programme. They were there to take part in touch rugby games and skills sessions, which the Duke watched. Representatives from Denbigh High School and Rokeby High School, both alumni of the programme, were also there to meet with the Prince and tell him about the positive impact the programme has had on their schools.
The children were very excited to meet Prince Harry, who gave out high-fives and hugs. Zara-Jess Gudza, 11, who received a hug from the royal visitor, told reporters afterwards: “It was just the inspiration, he is so big in this world and he came to this school. It felt crazy to meet someone who is part of the royal family and felt kind of inspirational.”
The Duke of Sussex also received a surprise invitation from 11-year-Old Freddie Theron, to attend barbecue at his house. Harry didn’t open the invite when handed it, but did say he would take a look at it later. Freddie told reporters after his encounter with the Royal: “It was incredible. I just can’t believe he actually came to watch rugby, I am so glad to be picked to meet him.”
Harry has a long history with the Rugby Football Union. In 2004 he trained as an assistant development officer with the RFU as part of his gap year and, once he became qualified, visited schools and clubs around the UK assisting community rugby coaches in teaching the game to young people. He became patron of the All Schools programme in 2013 and, in 2017, took over from his grandmother The Queen as patron of the Union itself.
The Duke of Sussex, in his capacity as patron, has visited the Rugby Football Union All School Programme at Lealands High School in Luton.
— The Royal Family Channel (@RoyalFamilyITNP) September 12, 2019
The Duke is also a regular at England games, both at home and abroad, since 2003. However, are currently no (known) plans for him to travel to Japan to attend any of England’s upcoming games in the Rugby World Cup, which begins September 20th and continues until November. He will be in the south of Africa from 23rd, too, with wife Meghan and son Archie.
Following the visit, RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said: “We are immensely proud that The Duke of Sussex was able to help us celebrate reaching the 750th milestone target for this programme.”