Prince William has been heavily criticised for not attending the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, which was held just days ago on August 20, in Sydney, Australia.
Namely because England’s Lionesses were in the final and it was the first time England had been in a World Cup final since 1966, but also because William himself is President of England’s Football Association.
In lieu of flying to Sydney ahead of the final, William took to Instagram with his daughter Princess Charlotte to wish the Lionesses well and to apologise for his absence.
“Lionesses, [I] want to send you a huge good luck for tomorrow. We’re sorry we can’t be there in person,” William said in a video post.
But the comments section was immediately flooded with responses condemning the Prince of Wales.
“If the men had reached the final you would have been there like a shot! Very very disappointing that you didn’t attend and where are your sons?!! So, it’s the women’s final so just bring your daughter out?! Shouldn’t you be setting an example to your sons too to support women?! Poor show,” one Instagram user commented.
Another said, “Not good enough William! … You should have flown out like the Queen of Spain and her daughter have done to support their team and women in sport everywhere.”
And the criticism isn’t just coming from nameless people online either; prominent Australian journalists Angela Bishop – host of Studio 10 – and Natalie Barr – co-host of Sunrise – both voiced their disappointment at William not attending the final on their respective television programs.
“I think it’s a disgrace,” Angela said during a Studio 10 interview with royal correspondent Gavin Grey on August 21.
“This was a moment not to make a video with his daughter but to get her on a plane with him, come out here and celebrate their team – their national team in the Women’s World Cup. To not be flexible enough to do that, to say, ‘It’s not in the diary’, to say, ‘It’s interrupting their summer holidays’ – none of those excuses cut the mustard,” she continued.
“He’s going to pay for this.”
Similarly, on Sunrise, while interviewing Daily Mirror Royal Editor, Russell Myers, Natalie said:
“You would have thought this would have been an easy get and he does the video with Charlotte which is lovely, but, really, that takes about five minutes and he could have been out here with such a massive, massive event.”
But The Weekly’s Royal Correspondent Juliet Rieden says while “it would certainly have been nice to see Prince William and his daughter Princess Charlotte come to Australia for the final, it was a tough call for the royal and whatever decision he made he would have been criticised.
“William is a vocal environmentalist and let’s not forget he’s also the Founder and President of the Earthshot Prize – annually awarded to individuals and/or organisations who are providing impactful and sustainable solutions for Earth’s environmental problems and a charity dedicated to delivering global change. So the optics around jumping on a plane to to fly from England to Australia and back, leaving a huge carbon footprint, for one albeit very high profile football match, would have been something the Prince and his advisers at Kensington Palace needed to take into account. In short it wouldn’t have looked great,” notes Juliet.
“Then there’s the expense. British taxpayers have only recently footed the costly bills for multiple royal events including King Charles’ coronation and the late Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.”
So, even if he had come, he would have had to cop a different kind of criticism.
And finally another consideration would have been the royal family’s annual summer gathering at Balmoral Castle – the first year without the late Queen. King Charles has already arrived there and William along with Catherine and their three children are expected to join the family in Scotland shortly.
Juliet also shares that it’s her belief that William not coming to the final “is not sexist”. “William has always shown immense support for the Lionesses and if it had hypothetically been England’s male football team playing in the FIFA Men’s World Cup final in Sydney over the weekend, I believe he would have made the same decision,” she says.
It’s not like the Lionesses did not enjoy official support during the match; UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and the British government’s Sports and Cultural Minister Lucy Frazer were in the crowd, cheering on England, at Olympic Park’s Accor Stadium on August 20.