The Duchess of Cambridge becomes the first member of the Royal Family to take on one of Prince Harry’s patronages when she is announced as the new figurehead of English rugby.
Kate, 40, will be unveiled ‘soon’ as the patron saint of the Rugby Football Union, sources told the Daily Mail.
Her role puts her in direct competition with William, who became a patron of the Welsh Rugby Union in 2016. The move comes ahead of England’s Six Nations campaign, which starts next week.
Harry was forced to resign as patron of the RFU last year after he and Meghan confirmed to the Queen that they would not return as working royals. Their decision followed a year-long “cooling off” period after they bitterly left royal life and settled in the US.
Harry himself took over the patronage of the Queen in 2016. Before that, he was Deputy Patron from 2010 and was seen as a committed ambassador to England. He even went on an alleged 25-hour drinking session with the team in Paris in 2007 after they lost the World Cup.
But Buckingham Palace made it clear that the Queen had no choice but to ask Harry and Meghan to relinquish their ties to the charities and organizations she had given them over their decision to pursue commercial careers.
The palace statement, released last February, said their “honorary military appointments and royal patronages” will be “returned to Her Majesty before being redistributed.”
To date, no member of the Royal Family has been awarded any of the Sussex patronages.
Some suspect the queen didn’t want to risk antagonizing her grandson, who has spent much of the past two years photographing his family from across the Atlantic. “People are just a little bit cautious when it comes to them,” noted a source.
But with the Six Nations Championship approaching next week, the need for a figurehead is urgent.
And it can be revealed that Kate, who once enjoyed a warm relationship with her brother-in-law, is about to step into his shoes and will be “front and center” at the upcoming matches.
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It is not yet known if she will also take on Harry’s former role as patron of the Rugby Football League. But the queen is now expected to redistribute more of the couple’s dormant patronages.
For Harry, in addition to his ex-military ties, these include the presidency of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and the London Marathon Charitable Trust.
Meghan also had to return patronage to the Royal National Theater and the Association of Commonwealth Universities, as well as her Vice-Presidency of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
Kate is one of the most sporty members of the royal family and she is already the royal patroness of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
She is a frequent visitor to the Wimbledon Championships, but it is less well known that Kate is also a huge rugby fan.
Her sister, Pippa, wrote in Vanity Fair magazine in 2014, “Rugby was a big thing for our family, we planned our weekends around the big games.”
Princess Anne, who also loves the sport, is the patroness of the Scottish Rugby Union.
England will face Wales at Twickenham on February 26, with both William and Kate cheering on their respective sides.
“They are known for being competitive with each other and this will be no different – probably even more so now that they have an invested interest in the outcome of the game,” said a source.
Prince George, eight, enjoys playing computer games, William revealed during a visit to the Bafta charity in London yesterday.
He said he and Kate should “arrange his screen time.”