Princess of Wales cheered by fans at Rugby League World Cup quarter-final

The Princess of Wales has shown her support for the England team on the pitch ahead of the Rugby League World Cup quarter-final match against Papua New Guinea.

Kate attended the crunch game at Wigan’s DW Stadium on Saturday, her first match since succeeding the Duke of Sussex as patron of the Rugby Football League (RFL).

Wearing a red coat over a long-sleeved burgundy top and pleated skirt, the princess was cheered by supporters as she walked on to the pitch to shake hands with players from both teams before the match kicked off, just after 2.30pm.

Kate, with an umbrella to cover her from the rain, clapped during a moment of “non-silence” held to mark the tournament’s Movember Mental Fitness Match Day with the aim of combating the damaging impact that silence can have upon men’s mental wellbeing.

Princess of Wales attends Rugby League World Cup quarter-final match
The Princess of Wales talks to TV presenter Clare Balding ahead of the game (Martin Rickett/PA)

She took a seat to watch the game, which started well for the host nation with England scoring a try six minutes in.

Arriving at the stadium, the princess said: “There are a lot of very excited fans out there.”

She met officials including TV presenter Clare Balding, the president of the Rugby Football League, who told her she was going to as many of the tournament’s games as she could.

Kate also congratulated the England Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) team on winning the first PDRL World Cup after beating New Zealand in the final last Sunday.

England v Papua New Guinea – Rugby League World Cup – Quarter Final – DW Stadium
The Princess of Wales speaks to the Papua New Guinea players (Tim Goode/PA)

The princess asked members of the team about how they had prepared for the games and told them: “Really well done.”

She also spoke to representatives from groups who have played a part in the delivery of the Rugby League World Cup Social Impact Programme.

The programme, launched in June 2018, aims to provide a positive impact to communities in the tournament’s host towns and cities.

Volunteers presented the princess with gifts including soap, a signed shirt, artwork and some knitted hats.

Kate told volunteer Susan Hill, who knitted the hats: “I tried knitting once and I was terrible at it, so I’ll have to come for lessons.”

Ms Hill replied: “It’s easy when you know how.”

Ms Hill also told the princess she was profoundly deaf but had been able to lip read what she said, adding: “Thank you.”

England v Papua New Guinea – Rugby League World Cup – Quarter Final – DW Stadium
The Princess of Wales sheltered from the rain (Tim Goode/PA)

The draw for the World Cup was launched by Harry in January 2020, just over a week after he announced he wanted to step down with wife Meghan as a working royal for personal and financial freedom.

There was an expectation he would attend the tournament hosted by England, but it was postponed for a year after Australia and New Zealand refused to take part, citing safety fears on the back of the pandemic.

Simon Johnson, chairman of the RFL, said earlier: “We will be delighted and honoured to welcome the Princess of Wales for the first time as the RFL’s Royal Patron.

“With both our England Women and Men’s teams playing important World Cup matches on Saturday, her presence will enhance a special occasion for our sport, for the World Cup and for the famous rugby league town of Wigan.”

The tournament has showcased the sport of rugby league with the women’s and wheelchair World Cups taking place alongside the men’s championship for the first time.