Should Prince William attend the Women's World Cup final?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, laughs with Mary Earps and Beth Mead of England as they collect their winners medal after the final whistle of the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
Prince William with Lionesses Mary Earps and Beth Mead at the Euro 2022 final. He won't be attending the World Cup final in Australia. (Getty Images) (Alex Pantling - The FA via Getty Images)

Prince William is under fire after it was confirmed he will not travel to Australia to watch the Lionesses compete in their historic World Cup final.

It is the first time the Lionesses have reached a World Cup final, 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.

Heir to the throne William - who is president of the nation's Football Association - celebrated the England women’s team’s “phenomenal performance” in a message of congratulations after the 3-1 semi-final victory over Australia on Wednesday.

But Kensington Palace confirmed he won’t be attending to watch the match against Spain.

And this comes as The Royal Spanish Football Federation said Queen Letizia and her daughter Infanta Sofia will be jetting to Sydney to cheer on their home nation.

Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said in response to the prince's absence: “No chance that Prince William would be ‘missing in action’ if the England men’s football team made it to the World Cup final.”

And Peter Shilton, the England men’s team’s most-capped player with 125 appearances, told GB News: “As soon as we got to the final, he should have been on a plane to get out there.”

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The Prince of Wales, who is on his summer break, will instead watch the match on television.

Last year, William was not planning to attend the men’s World Cup, staged by controversial hosts Qatar, due to a busy winter schedule.

But it was understood his office might have looked at making arrangements if Gareth Southgate’s team had reached the final.

Read more: World Cup final fanzones: Where to watch England v Spain

It is understood William made the decision not to travel to the Lionesses’ final because a trip to Australia would involve flying across the world for a very short period of time, and there were other ways he could show support for the team.

The prince has made tackling climate change one of his priorities, launching the Earthshot Prize to find solutions to repair and regenerate the earth.

His estranged brother the Duke of Sussex has often been criticised for his flying habits in the past, in particular his previous use of private planes.

William saw the Lionesses win the European Championship last year, presenting them with their medals at Wembley.

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Prince William, Prince of Wales and President of The Football Association, gives an honorary CBE to England manager Sarina Wiegman during a visit to the team at St Georges Park on June 20, 2023 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
Prince William gives an honorary CBE to England manager Sarina Wiegman in June. (Getty Images) (Naomi Baker - The FA via Getty Images)

On Friday, foreign secretary James Cleverly said he will attend the final.

"This is an amazing moment to celebrate the very best of women’s international sport with Australia and New Zealand as our brilliant tournament hosts," he said. "Everyone back home is behind the Lionesses for their first appearance ever in a World Cup final, and I will be there in person to cheer them on.”

Meanwhile, councils and police in England are being urged to “turn a blind eye” to pubs opening early for the 11am final.

MPs have called on the authorities to ignore instances of publicans serving outside their usual Sunday hours, after warnings licensing rules mean leave some venues unable to serve pints or open early for excited fans on the day.

TOPSHOT - England's forward #23 Alessia Russo celebrates scoring her team's third goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup semi-final football match between Australia and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney on August 16, 2023. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)
The Lionesses celebrate Alessia Russo's winning goal in the semi-final on Wednesday. (AFP via Getty Images) (DAVID GRAY via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - England fans celebrate the victory of England as they watch a screen showing the Women's World Cup semi-final football match between Australia and England, at Boxpark Wembley in London on August 16, 2023. England beats Australia 3-1 to reach Women's World Cup final. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
England fans celebrate the semi-final victory on Wednesday. (AFP via Getty Images) (JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images)

In Cornwall, the council and police have already announced they will not take enforcement action for early openings during the big match.

Current regulations mean the sale of alcohol is widely prohibited before 10am on Sunday, but venues such as pubs also have specific hours they can stay open and serve alcohol depending on individual licences.

A blanket change to licensing hours across England would require the approval of Parliament, which is not currently sitting as it is the summer recess - and demands for an emergency recall to Westminster have been dismissed.

Read more: Lionesses roared on to bring World Cup home as VIP row grows

Conservative MP Sir Michael Fabricant has instead suggested his local police force “turn a blind eye” to any pubs opening early for Sunday’s World Cup final.

In a letter to Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Chris Noble and Staffordshire police and fire commissioner Ben Adams, the Lichfield MP wrote: “I think it would be a marvellous gesture if pubs could be allowed to open early and, although this would be contrary to the law, the police might turn a blind eye on this one occasion only.”