One of the consequences of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to step back as working royals is the question over what will happen to the royal patronages they once held. Now it’s been reported that Prince Harry’s sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, is to step in to help address some of the vacancies, by becoming patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL).
According to the Sunday Times, an announcement is expected in the coming months – in the run up to the rugby league World Cup in October and November – confirming that Kate will take on the RFU and RFL patronages formerly held by her brother-in-law.
It will be a fitting role for the Duchess, as an ardent sports enthusiast, who is already royal patron of a number of sport-related organisations: including SportsAid, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and The Lawn Tennis Association. Just last month, Kate was in attendance at the Wimbledon Women’s and Men’s Singles Finals, as well as the UEFA Euro 2020 Final, where she joined her husband and eldest son, Prince George, both of whom are passionate football fans.
Rugby is another sport that holds a place in the Duchess’s heart, as she grew up watching it with her family. In Vanity Fair in 2014, Kate’s younger sister, Pippa Matthews (née Middleton), revealed: ‘Rugby was a big thing in our family… We’d plan our weekends around the matches… If we lost, my dad would be in a state of despair for the rest of the afternoon, as if he’d actually lost the game himself.’
The Duchess previously attended the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and watched France play against Wales during a Six Nations match in Paris in 2017. The Duke of Cambridge is currently patron of the Welsh Rugby Union – meaning there could be some healthy husband-and-wife competition on the cards in upcoming England vs Wales rugby games.
Harry was previously vice-patron of the RFU from 2010 until 2016, before taking over from the Queen as a patron of both the RFU and RFL. He held the role for five years before his departure as an official Royal Family member, following which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were both required to relinquish their patronages tied to the Crown.
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