Prince Harry made an unannounced appearance at the NFL Honors in Las Vegas Thursday night after his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trip to the U.K. to visit King Charles III following the monarch’s diagnosis with cancer.
The Duke of Sussex spent 30 minutes with his father in London on Tuesday after the bombshell health news. He and his brother, Prince William, didn’t meet during Harry’s 25-hour visit in England with relations between the siblings believed to be nonexistent.
After returning to Los Angeles, Harry popped up at the NFL Honors ceremony in Las Vegas where he presented Cameron Heyward with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. In brief introductory remarks, the prince had the audience cracking up poking fun at football, American-style.
“I really love how you stole rugby from us,” Harry said to laughter. “And you made it your own. Instead of passing it backwards, just pass it forwards. Why not wear pads and a helmet? Of course have an offense and defense—that makes sense. And why not take a breather every 15 seconds?”
He also mocked the relative brevity of NFL seasons compared with those endured by rugby players. “Instead of a 10-month season, let’s just make it 18 weeks. Genius!” he said. “All kidding aside, what you guys do on and off the field is truly remarkable. You are role models for millions in the way you carry yourselves and in the way you give back.”
The award—which is considered the NFL’s highest honor—went to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Heyward in recognition of his charity week, particularly with his annual Cam’s Kindness Week. “Man, Prince freakin’ Harry!” a starstruck Heyward said as he came on stage to receive his award. “Man, I’m in shock. That’s Prince Harry!”
Friends of the British royals criticized Harry this week for “making it all about him” with his flying visit to see his father. Buckingham Palace staffers nevertheless said Charles had welcomed his son’s visit—believed to be the first time the two have met in person since the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Sources told The Times of London that the shortness of their meeting reflected the sovereign’s fatigue rather than being a deliberate slight against Harry.