Prince Harry divides opinion with 'shock' Texas rodeo appearance

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Prince Harry was spotted at a Texas rodeo over the weekend with a photo of the Duke of Sussex shared from the Stockyards Rodeo event in Fort Worth on Saturday going viral on social media.

The 37-year-old was seen at the event wearing a green cowboy hat with the Daily Mail reporting that only three people in attendance recognised him and were shocked he was there given wife Meghan Markle's stance on animal rights.

Prince Harry at a Texan rodeo
Prince Harry has divided opinion on social media following his 'shock' appearance at a Texas rodeo. Photo: Instagram/cindyreid_stockyardsrodeo

"It's a quintessentially American event, where animals are made to perform," one source told the publication.

"Given he has such a lack of respect for the First Amendment and his wife is such an animal rights activist - it is shocking he thought he could show his face here," they added, referencing Harry previously calling the First Amendment "bonkers".

"The funny thing is most people didn't recognize him or care."

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Omid Scobie, a friend of the couple who co-wrote Finding Freedom, a biography about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, took to Twitter to share the snap, writing, "Living his best American life 🇺🇸 Prince Harry was in Fort Worth, Texas this weekend and spent Saturday at the historic @cowtowncoliseum for the famous @StockyardsRodeo.

"The duke was spotted by locals enjoying some good ol’ Southern hospitality and a VIP tour of the venue."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
While some people loved the rodeo snap, many others, including PETA, have criticised Harry for attending the event, while noting Meghan Markle is very much an animal lover. Photo: Getty

Meghan was not at the event and likely wouldn't approve given she made Harry quit his much-loved hobby of hunting in early 2018, which meant he had to skip a number of the royal family's annual hunts.

She is believed to have taken issue with Harry reportedly taking part in a boar hunt in Germany in 2017 and when he realised his then-girlfriend didn't like the tradition, he declined to join the Boxing Day hunt from that year onwards.

Many fans loved the shot of Harry at the rodeo, with one Instagram user writing, "Superbowl now this? He is living his BEST life."

"I really love this for our ginger avenger. He's truly out here living his best life and I love that for him," another added on Twitter.

"Happy and free. He isn’t going back," a third wrote.

"We absolutely adore Prince Harry, he's very welcomed here," someone else said.

Prince Harry hunting as a young boy
Prince Harry taking part in the Beaufort hunt in November 1998. Photo: Getty

However, Harry was criticised by animal rights group PETA, with a spokesperson saying in a statement to The Mirror: "It's extremely disappointing to see that Prince Harry made the misjudgement to attend a rodeo, a crude, old amusement for bored cowboys who view animals as nothing more than things.

"In these events, participants use electric prods, flank straps, and spurs to burn, wound, terrorize, and provoke animals who are trying to flee for their lives."

"It really is cruel. I'd wish they'd ban the damned things," one user wrote in response to Obie's Tweet.

Meghan is a patron of the London-based Mayhew Trust animal charity with their media officer, Sarah Hastelow, telling Newsweek in 2020 that the Duchess has "been such a champion of animals and animal welfare. It's always been a passion of hers".

Before she shut down her social media accounts in 2017, Meghan would often promote adopting dogs rather than buying puppies after having rescued two dogs herself, a beagle called Guy and a Labrador-shepherd mix called Bogart.

Harry's most recent major solo outing was at the Super Bowl last month, where he celebrated the Rams' victory in their locker room.

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