GEOFF CADDICK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Prince William
With the soccer World Cup kicking off this weekend, Prince William has an important decision to make: which country to support!
As President of the Football Association, Prince William is the head of the England soccer scene and is a passionate supporter of that squad, famously taking his son Prince George to the final of the European Championship in July 2021. But as the Prince of Wales (and an ardent supporter of Welsh rugby!), he now has conflicting interests.
Making things more fraught for the royal fan is the fact that Wales has qualified for the competition for the first time since 1958, and there's even greater anticipation of the games in the country.
Actor Michael Sheen called him out in the immediate aftermath of Prince William wishing the 26-player England squad well.
"He can, of course, support whoever he likes and as Pres of FA his role makes visit understandable — but surely he sees holding the title Prince of Wales at same time is entirely inappropriate? Not a shred of embarrassment? Or sensitivity to the problem here?" Sheen wrote on Twitter.
He can, of course, support whoever he likes and as Pres of FA his role makes visit understandable - but surely he sees holding the title Prince of Wales at same time is entirely inappropriate? Not a shred of embarrassment? Or sensitivity to the problem here? #PrinceofWales https://t.co/Hoanq9snXt
— michael sheen 💙 (@michaelsheen) November 15, 2022
During his visit to the Welsh capital of Cardiff on Wednesday, Prince William said that he was backing both sides.
"I support both. I support England more in the football but Wales in the rugby. 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 said, according to Wales Online reporter Will Hayward.
Prince William might find it tricky to navigate on the day when the two sides are set to meet: Nov. 29.
Prince William spoke with Llywydd (presiding officer) Elin Jones in Wales, who showed him her Wales hat and noted, "They play each other in a few weeks' time. But I won't ask you."
William replied, "No, it's okay. I'm telling everyone I'm supporting both, definitely. I can't lose. I've supported England since I've been quite small. But I support Welsh rugby, and that's my way of doing it. I happily support Wales over England in the rugby, so I've got to be able to play carefully with my affiliations. I worry otherwise if I suddenly drop England to support Wales then that doesn't look right for the sport either. So I can't do that."
"An England vs. Wales World Cup final would be the best, that would be pretty good," he added. "I'm making sure I'm out there supporting Wales through all the process because I know it's a big deal for Wales. When I was growing up, Wales weren't getting through to the tournaments, so I had to make a choice. But we will have the rugby world cup in France next year, that will be a big deal."
On supporting England or Wales Prince William said: On football: “I support both. I support England more in the football but Wales in the rugby. When I was growing up Wales didn’t get through to the tournaments but I will be supporting them all the way through the process...” pic.twitter.com/mhZNQwFS3w
— Will Hayward (@WillHayCardiff) November 16, 2022
A royal source says it would be "quite disingenuous for someone who hasn't been shy about supporting England his entire life to start changing his allegiances now," on which most soccer fans would certainly concur. But William is said to be "delighted and proud of the Welsh team" for reaching their first World Cup finals in 64 years, and he is celebrating that achievement.
On Monday evening, William surprised the England soccer squad by handing out commemorative jerseys to the players as they prepared to head to Qatar.
Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images Prince William with teh England soccer team
"I'm really here to just kind of point out that the rest of the country's behind you," the royal told the team. "We're all rooting for you. Enjoy it."
William received an England jersey signed by the entire squad in return.
Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images Prince William and Jack Grealish
"What you and Gareth have built here is something special, that's clear to see," William told them, referring to the role of England coach Gareth Southgate, who steered the team to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
"Play for each other, support each other, enjoy it and I'm sure you'll go far," he added.