It is absurd to suggest that Prince William’s non-attendance at the Women’s World Cup final in Australia on Sunday is some great public scandal. He faces growing pressure to cut short his family holiday and jet over to Australia pronto. Some critics have even gone as far as to claim that, if William doesn’t do so, he will somehow be guilty of letting the side – and by implication the nation – down.
The argument goes something like this. As president of the Football Association – the suits who run the English game – the heir to the throne is responsible for promoting the sport nationally and internationally at all levels.
Well, so what? Nowhere in the small print does it say that this means he must be present at every big event. William was at the final when the Lionesses won the Euros against Germany last year, and made headlines by hugging captain Leah Williamson and her teammates during the medal presentation. That final took place at Wembley, not thousands of miles away in Australia. William, a big supporter of the women’s game, also wished the team luck on a visit to the St George’s Park national football centre in June when he presented an award to the coach Sarina Wiegman.
It is not William’s fault that, when his summer holiday was being planned, no one knew how far the team would progress in the competition. It is churlish to attack him for spending time with his young family. Doesn’t he deserve a summer break?
Even so, the critics continue to take cheap pot shots. Gerry Sutcliffe, a former Labour MP and sports minister, is adamant that the royal family must be represented at the final.