William faces running backlash over absence from World Cup final

Former England goalkeeper Pauline Cope said of the prince, the PM and Gareth Southgate: ‘If it was the men’s World Cup, they would all be here.’

The Prince of Wales is facing a continued backlash over his decision not to attend the Women’s World Cup final in Australia.

Former England goalkeeper Pauline Cope branded it a “shame”, saying: “I will not have any bad words against the royal family.

“However this should have been pencilled in his diary from day dot, after we won the Euros and qualified for the World Cup.”

She also expressed her disappointment that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and England men’s manager Gareth Southgate had not travelled to Sydney for the Lionesses’ historic clash against Spain on Sunday.

Cope, who has 60 England caps and played in the 1995 World Cup, told Times Radio: “Let’s be honest, if it was the men’s World Cup, they would all be here.”

Veteran broadcaster Jon Sopel similarly suggested it is “inconceivable” that William, who is president of the FA, and the PM would not travel if it was the men’s team playing.

Sopel tweeted: “Happy to accept might be impossible for the PM, given other commitments. But Prince William? Why?”

TV presenter Piers Morgan tweeted: “With respect, YRH (Your Royal Highness), you should have got on a plane.

“Ridiculous that the Queen of Spain is attending the World Cup Final to support her nation’s team, and you won’t be there despite being President of the FA.”

No senior member of the British royal family is attending the match.

Queen Letizia of Spain will be there with her 16-year-old daughter Ifanta Sofia in order to show her country’s commitment to national football.

King Charles III coronation
The King with Queen Letizia of Spain during an event in May to mark his coronation (Jacob King/PA)

It is the first time the Lionesses have reached the final of a World Cup, and the first time an England football team has competed in a World Cup final since the men’s side beat West Germany in 1966.

The King has urged the Lionesses to “roar to victory”, and he and the Queen, who are believed to be in Birkhall in Aberdeenshire, will be among the millions of Britons following the game from afar on Sunday.

Heir to the throne William apologised to the Lionesses for not being there in a video message on Saturday.

The prince, joined by his daughter Princess Charlotte who was clutching a football, said: “Lionesses, we want to send you a huge good luck for tomorrow, we’re sorry we can’t be there in person but we’re so proud of everything you’ve achieved and the millions you’ve inspired here and around the world.

“So go out there tomorrow and really enjoy yourselves.”

Royal visit to St George’s Park
William presented an honorary CBE to England manager Sarina Wiegman in June (Phil Noble/PA)

It is understood William made the decision not to go because a trip to Australia would involve flying across the world for a very short period of time.

In October, he had not planned to attend the men’s World Cup, staged by controversial hosts Qatar, due to a busy winter schedule.

But before Southgate’s squad was knocked out in the quarter-final, it was understood William’s office was looking at making possible arrangements for him to attend if the men reached the final.

William is currently on his annual summer break.

Royal visit to FA Training Ground
William with Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate at the FA training ground prior to an England match in 2018 (Charlotte Graham/Daily Telegraph/PA)

He saw the Lionesses win the European Championship last year, presenting them with their medals at Wembley, and visited them in person in June at St George’s Park to wish them good luck before they left for Australia.

Charles is King of Australia and is yet to travel there since his accession.

Questions have been raised about the diplomatic implications of William visiting the country before his father has had chance as the new monarch, and also whether Australia would have been responsible for footing the bill for William’s security costs during his stay.

The late Queen attended the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley and presented captain Bobby Moore with the trophy.

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