Sun. Jun 26th, 2022

The Duchess of Cambridge has taken over Prince Harry’s former roles as patron of the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League.

The Queen handed Kate the royal patronages and Kensington Palace said the sporting appointments “closely align with Her Royal Highness’ long-standing passion for sport and the lifelong benefits it can provide”.

In taking over the duties, the duchess is the first member of the Royal Family to officially receive one of the Sussexes’ past patronages.

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The confirmation comes ahead of the start of the Six Nations tournament this weekend.

England’s first game at Twickenham is against Wales later this month, following away games against Scotland and Italy.

Her new affiliation with England Rugby puts her in direct competition with her husband the Duke of Cambridge. He is patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.

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The Duchess of Cambridge, in her new role as Patron of the Rugby Football Union, during a visit to Twickenham Stadium, to meet England players, coaches and referees and join a training session on the pitch. Picture date: Wednesday February 2, 2022.
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The duchess spoke with players from both the England men’s and women’s teams at Twickenham ahead of the Six Nations

Kate is expected to one day become the Princess of Wales and she has supported Wales at matches with Prince William in the past.

Kensington Palace posted a video on social media to mark Kate’s new patronages in which she can be seen passing a rugby ball to players.

In a personal message accompanying the clip, Kate said she was “thrilled” to be working with the two organisations which she described as being committed to “harnessing the power that sport can have in bringing communities together and helping individuals flourish”.

** FILE ** Britain's Prince William, center, his girlfriend Kate Middleton and brother Prince Harry watch an England versus Italy Six Nations rugby match at Twickenham stadium in London, in this Saturday Feb. 10, 2007 file photograph. Prince William and his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton have ended their relationship, a British newspaper reported Saturday April 14, 2007. The newspaper said the split was caused by the huge pressures on the young couple and because of William's career in the
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Prince Harry, pictured here with William and Kate at Twickenham in 2007, was stripped of the roles last year after deciding to step away from royal duties. Pic: AP

A love of rugby from a young age

Kate, 40, grew up watching England rugby games with her family and her sister, Pippa Matthews, wrote in Vanity Fair in 2014 that “rugby was a big thing for our family and the focal point was international matches”.

“We’d plan our weekends around the matches,” she said.

“If we lost, my dad would be in a state of despair for the rest of the afternoon, as if he’d actually lost the game himself.”

Kate has been a rugby fan since a young age and has regularly been seen at matches with Prince Harry and other members of the royal family
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Kate has been a rugby fan since a young age and has regularly been seen at matches with Prince Harry and other members of the Royal Family

Kate seen as safe pair of hands by Queen

The duchess is seen as a safe pair of hands by the Queen and it has been long reported that she would fill the gap left by Prince Harry when he was stripped of the roles in February 2021 after deciding to step back from royal duties.

The Duke of Sussex is a passionate rugby fan, who celebrated with the England team after their 2003 World cup triumph.

He had been RFU patron since 2016 and RFL patron since 2017, taking over both roles from his grandmother.

The appointment was made by the Royal Family in a video shared on social media, that showed Kate throwing a rugby ball with players from the RFU and RFL
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The appointment was shared by the Royal Family in a video posted on social media, that showed Kate throwing a rugby ball with players from the RFU and RFL

RFU and RFL ‘honoured’ to have Kate as patron

Both rugby organisations welcomed the Duchess of Cambridge’s appointment.

Bill Sweeney, chief executive of the RFU, said: “We know the support of the duchess will be greatly valued from our grassroots clubs and fast-growing women and girls’ game, right up to our elite men’s and women’s England teams.”

Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of the RFL, said the organisation was “truly honoured” by the move.

“We look forward to working with the duchess in the years to come, and I know all levels of our sport will welcome her to the rugby league family.”

The Duchess of Cambridge, in her new role as Patron of the Rugby Football Union, during a visit to Twickenham Stadium, to meet England players, coaches and referees and join a training session on the pitch. Picture date: Wednesday February 2, 2022.
https://explore.pa.media/create/images/6a818399-3e09-4f34-a435-953b702094c8
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Kate took part in a training session on the pitch on Wednesday, alongside members of the England rugby team

Kate, known for her love of sport, is already a royal patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon, the Lawn Tennis Association, SportsAid and the 1851 Trust.

Following the appointment, Kate met players from England’s men’s and women’s squads at Twickenham ahead of the Six Nations.

She also joined players in a skills session, run by England head coach Eddie Jones and before the session she was asked whether she was ready.

“Absolutely. I’ve got my kit on,” Kate replied.

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