Prince William is continuing to keep a low profile as the row deepens over his decision to snub the Lionesses’ World Cup final in favour of a family holiday.
Kensington Palace confirmed earlier this week that the Prince of Wales,who is president of the Football Association and therefore responsible for promoting the game nationally and internationally, would not be making the trip Down Under.
He will instead be roaring on the Lionesses – who are representing England in its first World Cup final since 1966 – from home.
Since sending a tweet to congratulate the team on their semi-final triumph over Australia on Wednesday, the heir to the throne has not been seen in public, as pressure grows over his absence from Sunday’s showpiece event.
The cost of the trip and carbon footprint were cited as reasons for the prince not to go.
Kensington Palace confirmed earlier this week that the Prince of Wales, who is president of the Football Association and therefore responsible for promoting the game nationally and internationally, would not be making the trip Down Under
However, the row was intensified when the Royal Spanish Football Federation confirmed that Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter, Infanta Sofia, will be in Sydney, ‘to show, once again, the royal household’s support for national football’
England’s Lionesses booked their place in the World Cup final against Spain with a famous victory over Australia on Wednesday
Palace sources also said it might be considered tactless for William to return for the first time in almost a decade to publicly cheer England on in the finals they put Australia out of the tournament to get there.
But critics continued to round on the prince today, as the government frantically scrambled Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to Sydney to support Sarina Wiegman’s side.
Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, told MailOnline today:’It’s utterly ridiculous that England wasn’t and still isn’t prepared to celebrate the women’s World Cup final.
‘The President of the Football Association, Prince William isn’t bothering to attend, licensing laws haven’t been relaxed, there won’t be a screen at Trafalgar Square, and there’s been no word of any kind of large celebration should they win.
‘This last minute scramble to show support for the Lionesses by our leaders isn’t just embarrassing, it reveals how little they think of women’s sport.
‘You can guarantee that there’s no way the men’s football team would be treated with such disregard and disrespect.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will also be absent, due to ‘existing Government business commitments’, but will be ‘cheering the Lionesses on from Yorkshire’, a source said.
Labour MP Kate Osborne told Times Radio: ‘We all know that if this was the men’s final, Sunak, and the FA president, Prince William, would be in attendance no matter how long the flight to Australia is.’
Gerry Sutcliffe, who served as sports minister under Gordon Brown between 2007 and 2010, told the Telegraph: ‘I think the Prince of Wales should be there.
‘I know it’s a long way and I’m sure he has family commitments but this is a unique moment, it’s the World Cup final.’
Neither William nor Mr Sunak attended any of the England men’s World Cup games in Qatar last winter.
However, the row was intensified when theRoyal Spanish Football Federation confirmed that Queen Letizia and her 16-year-old daughter, Infanta Sofia, will be in Sydney, ‘to show, once again, the royal household’s support for national football’.
The pair will sit in the presidential box at the Accor Stadium, but won’t be joined by King Felipe, who is busy with other official duties.
Letizia visited the Spanish team in Madrid before they travelled to the tournament, watching them train and being presented with a personalised jersey.
She ended the visit with ‘a motivational speech that resonated deeply with the players and coaching staff’, the federation said.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said yesterday that bosses had always known William would not be attending, but that he had beena ‘brilliant supporter of the team throughout’.
The heir to the throne led tributes to the Lionesses following their historic 3-1 semi-final win over Australia on Wednesday, describing it as a ‘phenomenal performance’.
He added: ‘Commiserations to @TheMatildas, you’ve played brilliantly and been fantastic co-hosts of this World Cup.’
His father, King Charles III, also sent a personal message to Sarina Wiegman and her team after they booked their place in the final.
The monarch said:‘My wife and I join all our family in sending the mighty Lionesses our warmest congratulations on reaching the final of the World Cup, and in sharing our very best wishes for Sunday’s match.
‘While your victory may have cost the magnificent Matildas their chance for the greatest prize in the game, both teams have been an inspiration on and off the pitch and, for that, both nations are united in pride, admiration and respect.’