The Prince of Wales is facing criticism after it was confirmed that he will not attend the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney on Sunday (20 August).
The England women’s team is set to compete in their historic World Cup final against Spain, after they beat Australia 3-1 in the nail-biting semi-final on Wednesday (16 August).
Prince William, who is the president of the Football Association (FA), tweeted a personal message of congratulations following the Lionesses’ victory over Australia, describing it was a “phenomenal performance”.
Kensington Palace confirmed that he will not fly to Australia to cheer the team on in the final, and instead would watch the match on television. It is understood that the decision was made because it would involve flying across the world for a very short period of time.
Taking such a long flight would involve creating a large carbon footprint, which goes against William’s commitment to tackling climate change. The prince launched the Earthshot Prize in 2019 to find solutions to repair and regenerate the earth.
But citing William’s role as FA president, many fans have questioned whether the same decision would have been taken were it the men’s World Cup.
Last October, it was reported that he did not plan on attending the men’s World Cup in Qatar. It was understood, however, his office might have made arrangements so he could if Gareth Southgate’s team reached the final. The England men’s team lost 2-1 to France in the quarter-finals.
Mandy Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, tweeted: “No chance that Prince William would be ‘missing in action’ if the England men’s football team made it to the World Cup final.”
“I’m sorry but Prince William not going to Australia for the World Cup Final is some absolute bulls***,” one person wrote on Twitter/X. “He would be going if it was the men. He’s the president of the FA?!”
Another added: “Disappointing to hear Prince William, the president of the FA, won’t be attending the World Cup final on Sunday! These girls have worked so hard to change minds and do more for women’s football. He should really be there in support.”
FA president Prince William, who's on his summer break, will not attend the women's World Cup final.
I would have thought it was the kind of thing FA presidents did.
— John Finagin 💙 #FBPE (@JohnFinagin) August 17, 2023
“If Prince William doesn’t go to the final on Sunday it’ll show just how much men are valued more than women. Hope he’s on the plane already,” a third said.
The Independent has contacted Kensington Palace for comment.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has also come under fire for not having plans to attend the final in Sydney.
“It speaks volumes that the PM and royal family can’t be bothered to attend England Women’s World Cup final even in a Commonwealth country,” a fan lamented.
The government is also under pressure to declare a bank holiday if the Lionesses clinch the victory on Sunday. However, it has said that there are “no plans” for such a thing, as a spokesperson for the government said the “current pattern of public and bank holidays is well established”.
The spokesperson told the BBC: “Winning the World Cup would be a massive moment for the country and make no mistake we’ll find the right way to celebrate.
“As Sarina Wiegman herself has said, the first thing to do is focus on the final and the whole country will be rooting for the Lionesses this weekend.”
If the England men’s team were playing in a World Cup Final, Prince William (FA President) would be there. Rishi Sunak would be there. They would make flying over to Australia look as easy as popping to the corner shop for a pint of milk.
— Simon Harris - Man Behaving Dadly (THAT’S DADLY) (@simonharris_mbd) August 17, 2023
Meanwhile, Spain’s Queen Letizia will travel to Australia for the final with her 16-year-old daughter Ifanta Sofia to cheer their team on, the Royal Spanish Football Federation confirmed on Thursday (17 August).