Row deepens over Prince William’s absence at the Women’s World Cup final as former sports minister says the royal should ‘be there’ and MP claims he would go if it was the men’s final
- Prince of Wales will instead be cheering on England against Spain from home
The row over Prince William’s absence from this weekend’s Women’s World Cup final deepened today as a former sports minister said the royal should ‘be there’.
Kensington Palace confirmed earlier this week that the Prince of Wales, who is president of the Football Association and therefore responsible for promoting the game nationally and internationally, would not be making the trip Down Under.
He will instead be roaring on the Lionesses – who are representing England in their first World Cup final since 1966 – from home, as will Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who will also not be in attendance for Sunday’s clash with Spain.
Gerry Sutcliffe, who served as sports minister under Gordon Brown between 2007 and 2010, told the Telegraph: ‘I think the Prince of Wales should be there.
‘I know it’s a long way and I’m sure he has family commitments but this is a unique moment, it’s the World Cup final.’
Kensington Palace confirmed earlier this week that the Prince of Wales, who is president of the Football Association and therefore responsible for promoting the game nationally and internationally, would not be making the trip Down Under
However, the row was intensified when the Royal Spanish Football Federation confirmed that Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter, Infanta Sofia, will be in Sydney, ‘to show, once again, the royal household’s support for national football’
England’s Lionesses booked their place in the World Cup final against Spain with a famous victory over Australia on Wednesday
Kate Osborne, the Labour MP, told Times Radio: ‘We all know that if this was the men’s final, Sunak, and the FA president, Prince William, would be in attendance no matter how long the flight to Australia is.’
READ MORE: Churches will screen the Lionesses’ bid for World Cup final glory after senior bishops give approval to clergy to livestream the match on Sunday
Neither William nor Mr Sunak attended any of the England men’s World Cup games in Qatar last winter.
However, the row was intensified when the Royal Spanish Football Federation confirmed that Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter, Infanta Sofia, will be in Sydney, ‘to show, once again, the royal household’s support for national football’.
The pair will sit in the presidential box at the Accor Stadium, but won’t be joined by King Felipe, who is busy with other official duties.
Letizia visited the Spanish team in Madrid before they travelled to the tournament, watching them train and being presented with a personalised jersey.
She ended the visit with ‘a motivational speech that resonated deeply with the players and coaching staff’, the federation said.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said yesterday that bosses had always known William would not be attending, but that he had been a ‘brilliant supporter of the team throughout’.
The heir to the throne led tributes to the Lionesses following their historic 3-1 semi-final win over Australia on Wednesday, describing it as a ‘phenomenal performance’.
He added: ‘Commiserations to @TheMatildas, you’ve played brilliantly and been fantastic co-hosts of this World Cup.’
His father, King Charles III, also sent a personal message to Sarina Wiegman and her team after they booked their place in the final.
The monarch said: ‘My wife and I join all our family in sending the mighty Lionesses our warmest congratulations on reaching the final of the World Cup, and in sharing our very best wishes for Sunday’s match.
‘While your victory may have cost the magnificent Matildas their chance for the greatest prize in the game, both teams have been an inspiration on and off the pitch – and, for that, both nations are united in pride, admiration and respect.’
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