Prince Harry Had No Plans to Attend Super Bowl Despite NFL Honors Appearance

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The Duke of Sussex made a surprise appearance at the NFL Honors in Las Vegas on Thursday

<p>Perry Knotts/Getty</p> Prince Harry presents the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award at the 13th Annual NFL Honors on February 8, 2024 in Las Vegas

Perry Knotts/Getty

Prince Harry presents the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award at the 13th Annual NFL Honors on February 8, 2024 in Las Vegas

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had no intention of attending the Super Bowl on Sunday, despite the Duke of Sussex's appearance at the NFL Honors a few days earlier, PEOPLE understands.

On Thursday, Harry, 39, made a surprise appearance at Thursday's NFL Honors in Las Vegas, where he took the stage to award the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year honor to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.

But his appearance wasn't a precursor to him attending the Super Bowl. Harry recently returned home from his quick trip to the U.K. to see his father, King Charles, following his cancer diagnosis. He and Meghan, 42, also have a joint trip to Canada on the calendar in the coming days. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will head north from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16 for the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025's One Year to Go celebrations.

The matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas is just a short flight from the couple's home in Montecito, California, where they live with their son Prince Archie, 4, and their daughter Princess Lilibet, 2. Harry and Meghan were last in Las Vegas together for the final show of Katy Perry's residency Play in November 2023.

Related: Prince Harry Returns to California After 24-Hour U.K. Trip to See Dad King Charles amid Cancer News

Buckingham Palace announced last Monday that King Charles has been diagnosed with “a form of cancer,” and Prince Harry flew to visit him the following day. It’s understood that the King, 75, personally informed his sons, Prince Harry and Prince William, before the public announcement, which came in a 138-word statement issued one week after the monarch left the hospital following a three-day stay after surgery for a benign enlarged prostate. However, the palace clarified that he does not have prostate cancer.

<p>AP Photo/David J. Phillip</p> Prince Harry presents the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award to Pittsburgh Steelers' Cameron Heyward during the NFL Honors award show ahead of the Super Bowl 58 football game Thursday,

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Prince Harry presents the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award to Pittsburgh Steelers' Cameron Heyward during the NFL Honors award show ahead of the Super Bowl 58 football game Thursday,

Harry returned from his visit just hours before he took the stage at the NFL Honors in Las Vegas. As he presented the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, which honors a player's volunteer and charity work, he joked, "I really love how you stole rugby from us 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? 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."

Reacting to the presenter, Heyward said, "Man, Prince freaking Harry. Man, I'm in shock. That's Prince Harry."

The event wasn't his first brush with the NFL. Harry was spotted in the stands at the 2022 Super Bowl in Inglewood with his cousin Princess Eugenie.

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the 2023 Invictus Games on September 15 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the 2023 Invictus Games on September 15 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

During Meghan and Harry's three-day visit to Canada, the couple will join members of the participating nations' Winter Training Camp, which provides an opportunity for members of the International Invictus Community, including team managers, coaches and competitors, to experience winter adaptive sports ahead of the Games next year.

Prince Harry, a former captain in the British Army, founded the international adaptive sports tournament for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans in 2014.

Following cycles in London (2014), Orlando (2016), Toronto (2017) and Sydney (2018), the Hague (when COVID-19 pushed the event back to 2022) and Düsseldorf (2023), the competition in Canada in 2025 will be the first time the Invictus Games have returned to a previous host country.

<p>Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images</p> Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at meeting with NATO representatives on the sidelines of the Invictus Games in Germany in September 2023.

Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at meeting with NATO representatives on the sidelines of the Invictus Games in Germany in September 2023.

The Invictus Games in Vancouver-Whistler will also be the first to incorporate winter adaptive sports in addition to some of the core sports from previous Invictus Games.

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Canada is a special place for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the Invictus Games marked an important moment early in their relationship. The couple famously made their debut as a couple at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, where Meghan lived while filming Suits.

“I had always wanted to share these incredible moments with someone special, and to have Meg by my side means everything,” Prince Harry told PEOPLE in 2022 about the key role that the Invictus Games have played in his relationship with Meghan.

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