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‘Disappointing’: Prince William blasted by Lionesses fans for missing Women’s World Cup final in Australia

Neither the senior royal nor prime minister Rishi Sunak will attend the historic final on Sunday

Kate Ng,Adam Forrest
Saturday 19 August 2023 12:38 BST
World Cup semi-final: England fans celebrate Lionesses scoring against Australia

Prince William is facing criticism after it was confirmed that he will not attend the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney.

Rishi Sunak has also come under fire for not having plans to attend the historic occasion for the England women’s team in Australia, which takes place on Sunday (20 August).

The Lionesses are set to compete in a historic World Cup final against Spain, after they beat Australia 3-1 in the nail-biting semi-final on Wednesday (16 August).

The Prince of Wales, who is the president of the Football Association (FA), tweeted a personal message of congratulations following the victory over Australia, describing it as a “phenomenal performance”.

Kensington Palace, however, confirmed that he will not fly to Australia to cheer on the team in the final, and will instead 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 in an effort to find solutions to repair and regenerate the Earth.

But citing William’s role as the 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 the prince did not plan to attend the men’s World Cup in Qatar. It was understood, however, that his office might have made arrangements for him to travel there 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.”

“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.

The prime minister also came 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 announced that the foreign secretary, James Cleverly, will attend Sunday’s final.

The government is also under pressure to declare a bank holiday if the Lionesses claim victory. However, it has said that there are “no plans” to do so, with a No 10 spokesperson saying that 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.”

Cleverly said “all eyes” would be on Sydney this Sunday, adding: “This is an amazing moment to celebrate the very best of women’s international sport with Australia and New Zealand as our brilliant tournament hosts.

“Everyone back home is behind the Lionesses for their first appearance ever in a World Cup final, and I will be there in person to cheer them on.”

Cleverly is also expected to meet with Australia’s minister for foreign affairs, Penny Wong, to discuss foreign policy issues including regional security.

Spain’s Queen Letizia will travel to Australia for the final with her 16-year-old daughter, Infanta Sofia, to cheer their team on, the Royal Spanish Football Federation confirmed on Thursday.

Councils and police are being urged to “turn a blind eye” to pubs opening early for the Women’s World Cup final.

MPs have called on authorities to ignore instances of publicans serving outside of their usual Sunday hours, after warnings that licensing rules will leave some venues unable to serve pints or open early for excited fans on the day.

Communities secretary Michael Gove wrote to councils on Thursday (17 August) to ask them to do everything they can to help venues seeking to extend their opening hours for the game.

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