As part of a two-day trip to Leeds, Prince Harry yesterday paid a visit to the RFL, his first engagement as the organisation’s patron.
Harry’s day began at the ‘Leeds Leads: Encouraging Happy Young Minds’ event, a charity fair and panel discussion addressing the mental wellbeing of the city’s young people.
Harry opened a panel discussion, talking about youth mental health and how it was time to slow down in the modern world.
“But let’s not kid ourselves that the job is done,” said Harry, referring to the success of the Heads Together campaign in encouraging openness on the subject. “There is much much more that we can do at every level to make conversations about mental health as common place as those about physical health. For example, we need to better equip our young people with the tools they need to cope with this increasingly complex and fast moving world we live in.
“I read recently that young people check their phones at least 150 times per day,” the Prince said. “I’m sure we could all be more effective and efficient if we took a moment to process our thoughts rather than rushing from one thing to the next.
He also revealed the shocking statistic that it takes ‘someone who is struggling with their mental health about ten years to admit they have a problem’.
Leeds Community Foundation organised the event, and brings together numerous mental health causes across the city, and the Royal spoke with those running programmes and assisting those in need.
Prince Harry then moved on to the Headingly area of Leeds, attending the Sky Try Rugby League Festival, which aims to inspire schoolchildren to take up the sport. The home of Leeds Rhinos, Headingley Stadium, hosted a seven-a-side session with youngsters, the Rhino mascot and their VIP guest.
The children were being coached by current England players and local coaches from the Leeds Rhinos Foundation. During the visit, he met club legend Kevin Sinfield, RFL director Nigel Wood and chairman Brian Barwick.
This was Harry’s first Rugby Football League (RFL) patronage visit, after taking over from The Queen.