Prince William joined the crowd to cheer on Wales when they faced Fiji at the Rugby World Cup, after facing outrage for missing the Lionesses’ Women’s World Cup final.
William and Kate, Princess of Wales, are in France to promote their home nations as royal patrons of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the Rugby Football Union (RFU), respectively.
After arriving at Stade de Bordeaux for the big game, the Prince of Wales was greeted by Rugby World Cup director Gareth Davies, venue director Paul Couet-Lannes, and WRU president Gerald Davies.
Before taking his seat, he met with Fijian President Wiliame Katonivere.
The prince remarked on the sunny weather in the French capital, where temperatures reached 36 degrees Celsius this weekend, before discussing the competition, which began on Friday with hosts France defeating three-time winners New Zealand 27-13 in Paris.
William told Mr Davies: “I can’t believe another World Cup has come around again. It’s exciting when it all kicks off. There have been some good matches already. The France-New Zealand game was fantastic.”
The Princess of Wales flew to south-west France the day after England defeated Argentina 27-10 in Marseille.
The prince, who was dressed in a dark blue suit with a red and white tie, also expressed respect for former Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, Test rugby’s most-capped player.
Wyn Jones left international duty earlier this year and now plays for the French club Toulon.
During his conversation with Mr. Davies, William stated, “I’ll be looking for where Alun Wyn is.” He’s been there so long. He’s a stalwart.”
Before the game, William was observed singing the Welsh national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, among the players and the crowd.
William’s attendance in France comes after he was chastised for not flying to Australia for the Lionesses’ historic World Cup match against Spain.
Instead, the prince sent a video message with his daughter, Princess Charlotte, apologizing for his absence and wishing the team luck. Queen Letizia of Spain traveled to Australia for the final.
According to reports, William, the President of the Football Association, opted not to go due to the long distance he would have to travel in such a short period.
Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, was among those who slammed the decision, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter: “For Prince William to shirk the World Cup final is the wrong move, deeply disappointing, and calls into question how sincere he is when he proclaims his support for women’s sport.”
While William’s choice to travel to France for rugby after missing the Lionesses’ game in Sydney has sparked heated controversy, supporters have defended the decision.
Caroline Nokes, chair of Parliament’s Women’s and Equalities Committee, said on Wednesday (September 6) that “hopping over” to Paris is “a hell of a difference” from “a long flight” to Australia.
She said: “I’m not going to criticize anyone for not going. We all have to make difficult choices and unfortunately, he couldn’t make it.”
William’s presence at the Rugby World Cup came after Kate watched England’s opening match of the tournament in Marseilles on Saturday.
Before being brought to her seat in the Presidential Box at Stade Velodrome, she spoke with Sir Bill Beaumont, the former England captain.
She told Sir Bill: “We’re really excited to be here. Shame we can’t be here longer.”