Prince Harry Makes Surprise Appearance at NFL Honors Hours After Returning from U.K. to See Dad King Charles
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Prince Harry Makes Surprise Appearance at NFL Honors Hours After Returning from U.K. to See Dad King Charles

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Prince Harry appeared at Thursday’s NFL Honors in Las Vegas to give out the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.

“Good evening, NFL,” said the Duke of Sussex, 39. “It’s an honor to be with you all tonight.”

He then quipped, “I really love how you stole rugby from us and you made it your own,” pointing to the English-created sport. “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? And you know what? Instead of a 10-month season, let’s just make it 18 weeks. Genius.”

“All kidding aside, all you guys do on and off the field is truly remarkable,” Prince Harry continued. “You are role models for millions in the way you carry yourselves and in the way you give back. This final award, the highest honor, is all about serving your community. And there’s one special man we’d like to pay tribute to now. A player who goes above and beyond and whose extraordinary commitment to helping others is a reflection of his own story.”

The award was presented to Heyward, who was ecstatic to receive the award from Prince Harry. “Man, Prince freaking Harry. Man, I’m in shock. That’s Prince Harry,” said Heyward after coming on stage.

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The Duke of Sussex’s appearance came hours after he returned to the U.S., where he and Meghan Markle relocated in 2020 after stepping back as working members of the royal family, after taking a quick trip to his home country to see his father, King Charles, who publicly revealed his cancer diagnosis on Monday.

“That is good,” a source close to the royal household tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s cover story about Prince Harry’s trip to the U.K. to see his father. “Hopefully [Harry] will bring the grandchildren at some point too, as that would be lovely for all of them.”

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Buckingham Palace said that the monarch’s cancer was found following “subsequent diagnostic tests” after his surgery to treat an enlarged prostate in January.

“His Majesty has today commenced a schedule of regular treatments, during which time he has been advised by doctors to postpone public-facing duties. Throughout this period, His Majesty will continue to undertake State business and official paperwork as usual,” the palace said in their announcement.

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The NFL honors are held annually to recognize the NFL’s top players, coaches and teams. This year’s ceremony was hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and had multiple celebrities in attendance including Issa Rae, Janelle Monáe, Aly Raisman, Flavor Flav, Demar Hamlin, Justin Hartley and Gayle King.

Cameron Heyward, Prince Harry, and Keegan-Michael Key. AP PHOTO/DAVID J. PHILLIP

Prince Harry attended his first Super Bowl in 2022 with his first cousin, Princess Eugenie. After the Los Angeles Rams took home the win, he was seen visiting with the team in their locker room.

Prince Harry and Meghan, 42, recently visited Las Vegas in November for the final show of Katy Perry’s residency.

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