In a news release sent to media outlets after the fact, Buckingham Palace shared Prince Harry's involvement with the U.K.-Africa Investment Summit, an event hosted by the U.K. government to bring together world leaders to "demonstrate the strength of the relationship between the U.K. and Africa" and highlight economic opportunities in Africa.
The Duke of Sussex sat down with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as Prime Minister of Morocco Saadeddine Othmani, President of Malawi Arthur Peter Mutharika and President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi.
Prince William separately met with other African leaders, receiving Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo and Rwanda President Paul Kagame at Buckingham Palace.
Later Monday evening, Prince William and Duchess Kate, along with Princess Anne, Prince Edward and his wife, Countess Sophie, welcomed guests to a reception at Buckingham Palace for summit attendees. Kate wore a red sequined Needle & Thread gown with matching pointed red pumps.
Harry, 35, was not expected to attend, nor was Duchess Meghan, 38, who is in Canada with baby Archie.
Though Harry's Monday appearance was a surprise, his involvement with Africa is not: The prince has been a steadfast supporter. He, Meghan and Archie visited several African nations in October for the trio's first royal visit as a family. Addressing those who welcomed them at the conclusion of their visit, Prince Harry called Africa his "second home" and explained that part of his love for the continent stemmed from the welcome he received on his first trip in 1997 after the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
"Despite extreme hardship and ongoing challenges on so many levels, people are generous, they are strong, humble and incredibly optimistic," he said. "I have seen strength, resilience, a sense of hope and empathy that I can only aspire to replicate. Ever since I came to this continent as a young boy, trying to cope with something I can never possibly describe, Africa has held me in an embrace that I will never forget, and I feel incredibly fortunate for that."
The duke also made headlines Sunday over his first speech since he and the duchess made their bombshell announcement.
Speaking at a charity event for Sentebale, the charity he co-founded in 2006 to honor Princess Diana's support for orphans in Lesotho, southern Africa, affected by HIV and AIDS, Harry expressed "great sadness" over their step back but stressed his commitment to helping others.
He and Meghan wanted to continue serving "the queen, the commonwealth and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible."
"The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly," Harry said. "It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven't always gone at it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option. What I want to make clear is we're not walking away. And we certainly aren't walking away from you."
Queen Elizabeth, 93, released a statement Saturday night expressing pride and thanks to Harry and Meghan for their work while announcing terms the royal family had agreed upon for their exit.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will stop using their HRH titles (His Royal Highness, Her Royal Highness) as they are "no longer working members of the Royal Family," Buckingham Palace announced. They will be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Harry will remain a prince and sixth in line to the British throne.
The couple also will repay the Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will continue to be their family home in the U.K. The home was renovated with 2.4 million pounds ($3.06 million) of taxpayers’ money, royal accounts revealed last year.
Contributing: Morgan Hines
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prince Harry makes surprise royal appearance at U.K.-Africa summit