The Duke of Sussex joked that exams are “the best time of year” as he went back to school in Nottingham.

Harry, who corrected himself, saying “Not really”, chatted with students to mark World Mental Health Day.

The duke, who spearheaded the mental health initiative Heads Together alongside the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, was on an awayday to meet young people at community projects aimed at improving mental well-being.

Harry chats to pupils (Eamonn M McCormack/PA)

He was introduced to a reluctant readers’ group at Nottingham Academy and was greeted by a therapy dog.

The black Labradoodle, called Barney, received a fish block treat from Harry, which was handed to him by the dog’s owner and deputy head of house, Claire Iwanekjo.

The royal visitor quipped: “He’s going to have fish breath for the rest of the day. Great.”

Harry and Barney
Harry gives Barney the therapy dog a treat (Eamonn M. McCormack/PA)

Harry then sat with the group and declared exam time “the best time of year”, before adding “Not really”.

The royal also met with 14-year-old Aleyna Genc, gave her a hug and let her listen to a private voicemail message from his wife the Duchess of Sussex.

Aleyna, who has had several operations to remove a brain tumour, presented Harry with a toy dog for his baby son Archie.

The schoolgirl told the PA news agency she had been writing to Meghan for around two years after the duchess inspired her with a speech about women.

Harry receiving a toy dog (Eamonn M. McCormack/PA)

After listening to the voicemail from the duchess, Aleyna said: “I’ve been lettering with Meghan for around two years now and she sent me a little voicemail and I listened to that.

“I just sent her a letter because she made a speech and that was the one that really inspired me – her UN women’s speech.”

Harry told the teenager he had not been able to sleep for the past few days because of five-month-old Archie.

The duke chatted with Year 8 pupils in a Nurture session run by Epic Partners.

The duke told one pupil that “exams are not much fun”, but added that he was sure the teenagers were “right on top of it”.

The Duke of Sussex visits Nottingham Academy (Eamonn M McCormack/PA)

Harry remarked to one student, who was working on a piece about pop singer Michael Jackson, that “everybody wants to know how to Moonwalk”.

He also met a pupil he had spoken to a previous visit to the school, who told him she was now confident enough to tell somebody if she had a problem after working in the Nurture sessions.

Hundreds of school pupils cheered the duke as he arrived at the Academy on Thursday, with Harry waving at the crowds.

The royal later watched a scene of a “hip hopera” performance by young people from St Ann’s when he visited the city’s Community Recording Studio.

He was greeted with a hug from chief executive Trevor Rose.

Duke of Sussex visit Nottingham
The Duke of Sussex is greeted by Trevor Rose as he arrives at the Community Recording Studio in Nottingham (Joe Giddens/PA)

The 10-minute scene was set in a classroom and one of a number in the play which highlights mental health issues.

Harry quizzed the young actors about the project.

“How many of you are playing a role that is very relatable to your own life?” he asked.

Harry asked them whether the production process had helped highlight the issues to them and said: “It’s not all going to be good but to have that perspective and that awareness of what’s potentially happened to you – where you’ve come from and where you’re going – that’s golden.

“A lot of people sleepwalk through life unaware of any of that.”

The duke has teamed up with singer Ed Sheeran for World Mental Health Day, urging people “to look out for anybody that might be suffering in silence”.

Footage shared on the SussexRoyal Instagram account begins with a spoof misunderstanding between the red-headed pair, with Sheeran declaring he is there to write a song to raise awareness “for people like us”.

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Both Prince Harry and Ed Sheeran want to ensure that not just today but every day, you look after yourself, your friends and those around you. There’s no need to suffer in silence – share how you’re feeling, ask how someone is doing and listen for the answer. Be willing to ask for help when you need it and know that we are all in this together. #WMHD Check out the accounts below for more resources and support: @Heads_Together @Calmzone @MentalHealthFoundation @CharityNoPanic @SamaritansCharity @YoungMindsUK @GiveUsAShoutInsta @Childline_official @LetsTalkAboutMentalHealth @Jedfoundation @Pandas_UK @Charitysane @MindCharity @TimeToChangeCampaign @RethinkMentalIllness @MentalHealthMates @ActionHappiness @MHFAEngland @DitchTheLabel @TheBlurtFoundation

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Sheeran remarks: “With the jokes and the snide comments, I just feel like it’s time we stood up and said ‘We’re not going to take this anymore. We are ginger – and we’re gonna fight’.”

When Harry says there has been a miscommunication and their collaboration is about World Mental Health Day, Sheeran is seen deleting the words “Gingers Unite” from a presentation on his laptop.

At the end, Harry, sitting next to Sheeran on a sofa, says: “Guys, this World Mental Health Day, reach out, make sure that your friends, strangers – look out for anybody that might be suffering in silence. We’re all in this together.”