Prince Harry shocked NFL fans on Thursday, February 8, when he presented the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award to Cameron Heyward — just days after he went to visit King Charles amid his recent cancer diagnosis.
However, critics fumed over the prince's decision to fly back from the U.K. just to show face at a lavish event.
“I’m so done giving this guy the benefit of the doubt, what a ruthless idiot," American royal commentator Kinsey Schofield said on TalkTV. "I really do think it was all about PR, he knew if he showed up on this stage."
"To see him at this awards show, he just knew the optics were gonna look so bad if his father announced his cancer diagnosis," the podcaster explained. "It was almost like a necessity that he spends 30 seconds with his father so he can go, 'Look I did what I was supposed to do and now I can go back to going to these irrelevant awards shows.'"
Royal experts viewed Harry's time in Las Vegas as an opportunity to promote his personal brand while Charles' health continues to decline.
"Prince Harry makes gag-filled speech at Las Vegas NFL awards bash in first public words since his father King Charles was diagnosed with cancer — but makes NO mention of his father or his cross-Atlantic dash to spend 45 minutes with him," a Twitter user penned.
"So Prince Harry made an unexpected visit to his dad so that he would not look bad appearing at the NFL bash after dad’s cancer diagnosis. Ok," another person wrote.
"Prince Harry leaving the U.K. after 24 hours to present at the NFL honors is the type of energy I live for," an individual stated.
Due to the NFL being a quintessentially American sport, someone thought the mention of Charles would confuse the crowd.
"Why would Prince Harry mention his father at an NFL event! In America! Most of the people in that room probably think Prince Philip was his father who's already dead," another chimed in.
Before Harry returned to the West Coast, royal biographer Katie Nicholl explained the significance of his trip to the U.K.
"His father personally telephoned him to inform him of his cancer diagnosis, [and] Harry jumped on the overnight flight from Los Angeles," Nicholl told an outlet, adding Harry "came straight to Clarence House for what we understand was a brief meeting with his father."
"One could only imagine that it would have been an emotional reunion," Nicholl said. "Because they haven't seen each other since the King's coronation, and then they didn't get to spend very much time together at all."
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The editor believes His Majesty "desperately wants to reconcile with Harry" after years of distance and negative headlines.
"The king would have been hugely relieved and comforted by the fact that Harry flew over," Nicholl shared, explaining that the brief meeting was probably "emotional and probably quite difficult for both of them."