The Princess of Wales had a sporty start to the weekend at Stade de Marseille
Kate Middleton is on the road for some royal rugby.
On Saturday, the Princess of Wales, 41, stepped out in Marseille, France, for the Rugby World Cup 2023 Group Stage match between England and Argentina. Princess Kate followed the action at Stade de Marseille — in her role as the patron of the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League.
Queen Elizabeth named Kate as patron of the organizations in February 2022. It was the first redistributed position previously held by Prince Harry, who stepped back from his working royal role with his wife, Meghan Markle, in 2020.
Earlier this week, Kensington Palace confirmed that the Princess of Wales would attend the England vs. Argentina game in Marseille on Saturday, while Prince William would watch Wales vs. Fiji in a group stage match in Bordeaux on Sept. 10. The Rugby World Cup began in France on Friday, with the royal outings announced for some of the U.K.’s first games.
The diverging games are no surprise, as the Prince and Princess of Wales have a rugby rivalry! While Kate is patron of the union and league that governs the game in England, Prince William, 41, has been the patron of the Welsh Rugby Union since 2016. It’s a well-suited fit, as King Charles named his eldest son the Prince of Wales (the traditional title for the male heir to the throne) on Sept. 9, 2022, in his first speech as King after Queen Elizabeth’s death.
While it remains to be seen whether England and Wales will meet on the Rugby World Cup pitch this year, Prince William and Princess Kate have each rooted for their respective teams when they’ve competed previously. In February, the couple bundled up for the Wales vs. England Six Nations rugby match at Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Princess Kate went home with bragging rights, as England beat Wales 20-10.
Earlier this summer, the sporty royal even hit the rugby field herself! In June, Kate participated in training at the Maidenhead Rugby Club before talking to the players about their childhoods, highlighting her Shaping Us campaign focused on kids under age 5.
Although Kate's team lost that day, Steven Bough, chairman of Maidenhead Rugby Club, was impressed with her skills. "She’s obviously been practicing. Her ball skills and passing skills are very good. She was there, blending in playing as one of the team," he told PEOPLE. "To be honest, I didn’t realize she was there half the time.”
Added Nigel Gillingham, President of the Rugby Football Union, "She regularly plays rugby in the back garden with the children — she plays all sports with them. Apparently [Princess] Charlotte is very much in her mold — very competitive as well."
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Taking after their sporty parents, Prince William and Princess Kate’s kids are all excited about rugby! The Princess of Wales revealed this winter that Prince George, 10, and Princess Charlotte, 8, are both playing rugby, noting that her eldest child is tall so "he has the physique."
"We're always slightly competitive with each other. They all love sport and Louis is mad about rugby," she said during a chat with athletes at a January reception celebrating the England Wheelchair Rugby League team’s win at the Rugby League World Cup Final last year, according to the Daily Mirror. "They are at an age where they just love running around."
Though the Wales kids headed back to the classroom at the Lambrook School in the Berkshire countryside on Wednesday, the private prep incorporates plenty of time for supplementary activities like sports.
According to Lambrook's website, "Our facilities are second-to-none and include all-weather surface cricket, football, netball and hockey pitches, a well-equipped sports hall, a 25-metre indoor swimming pool, squash and tennis courts, dance studio, a nine-hole golf course and cricket squares of unsurpassed quality."
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