The Prince and Princess of Wales' rugby rivalry is no royal secret!
Prince William is saying “bonjour” to the Rugby World Cup!
The Prince of Wales, 41, was out in Bordeaux, France, on Sunday to attend the Rugby World Cup 2023 Group Stage match between Wales and Fiji.
Prince William’s sporty engagement at the Stade de Bordeaux came the day after his wife, Kate Middleton, attended another group stage match for the Rugby World Cup in France, where she cheered for England as they played Argentina. The diverging plans are no surprise, as the Prince and Princess of Wales have a rugby rivalry!
While Prince William supports Wales in rugby, Princess Kate cheers for England. That's because William is the longstanding Patron of the Welsh Rugby Union, while Kate is patron of the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League, which govern the game in England. Queen Elizabeth tapped her for the rugby roles in February 2022, redistributing positions previously held by Prince Harry. The Duke of Sussex stepped back from his working royal role with his wife, Meghan Markle, in 2020, and the rugby affiliations were the first Queen Elizabeth distributed to another family member.
Prince William became patron of the Welsh Rugby Union after his grandmother the Queen stepped down in 2016, and it was likely for a practical reason beyond William’s well-documented love of sports: strengthening his ties to Wales. William and Kate lived in Wales for the first two years of their marriage, and King Charles named his eldest son the Prince of Wales (the traditional title for the male heir to the throne) in his first speech as sovereign after Queen Elizabeth’s death last year.
Raising the World Cup stakes, Prince William and Princess Kate have each rooted for their respective teams when they’ve played in the past. previously. In February, they watched the Wales vs. England Six Nations rugby match at Principality Stadium in Cardiff — but it was Princess Kate who went home with bragging rights as England clinched victory.
Rivalries between U.K. sports teams can be fierce, and Prince William is a passionate supporter of England’s soccer squads as President of the Football Association. When pressed as to whether he’d support England or Wales in the 2022 FIFA World Cup last year, he stayed diplomatic.
"I support both. I support England more in the football but Wales in the rugby," William said, according to Wales Online reporter Will Hayward. "When I was growing up, Wales didn't get through to the tournaments. Getting to the World Cup is a big deal, and I'll be supporting Wales through the process."
He also tweeted well-wishes for both teams from the Kensington Royal account he shares with Princess Kate, sending messages in English and Welsh.
Prince William’s trip to Bordeaux comes less than two weeks before King Charles and Queen Camilla will visit the same city. In late August, Buckingham Palace announced that the King, 74, and the Queen, 76, would travel to France in September for a rescheduled state visit. The couple originally planned to make the trip in March for the first overseas tour of the King's reign, which was later postponed due to protests and riots over changes in pensions for French workers.
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Looking ahead to the upcoming trip, Charles and Camilla will visit Paris and Bordeaux for three days from September 20 to September 22 in order to celebrate the “shared history, culture and values” between the U.K. and France, according to a release. The visit will be Charles’ 35th official visit to France and Camilla’s ninth.
The palace further confirmed that the King and Queen will attend a dazzling state banquet at the Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris and tour an organic vineyard in the southwestern city of Bordeaux. There will also be celebrations surrounding the Rugby World Cup, which William and Kate are proudly supporting.
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