William addresses World Cup team support during Senedd visit

The Prince of Wales has addressed the controversy over his support for the England football team in the World Cup.

William insisted he would be cheering for both England and Wales during the tournament, which begins in Qatar on Sunday, during his visit to the Welsh Parliament.

On Tuesday, Welsh actor Michael Sheen tweeted that it was “entirely inappropriate” for William to visit the England team and present them with their shirts given his role.

But William told Elin Jones, Llywydd of the Senedd, that he could not have “suddenly” dropped his support for the England team, which he has held since he was young.

“I’m telling everyone I’m supporting both, definitely. I can’t lose,” William said.

“I’ve supported England since I’ve been quite small, but I support Welsh rugby and that’s my kind of way of doing it. I happily support Wales over England in the rugby.

“I’ve got to be able to play carefully with my affiliations because I worry otherwise if I suddenly drop England to support Wales then that doesn’t look right for the sport either. So I can’t do that.”

Ms Jones, the presiding officer of the Welsh parliament, replied: “We can agree to disagree.”

William then described Wales being in the World Cup as a “big deal”.

He said: “An England v Wales World Cup final would be the best wouldn’t it, that would be really good.

“I’m making sure I’m out there supporting Wales through all the process because I know this is a big deal for Wales.

“When I was growing up, Wales didn’t get through to the tournaments so I had to make a choice.”

Wales’ Brennan Johnson and Neco Williams (right) departing for Qatar from Cardiff airport
Wales’ Brennan Johnson and Neco Williams (right) departing for Qatar from Cardiff airport (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Actor Mr Sheen had tweeted on Tuesday: “He can, of course, support whoever he likes and as Pres of FA his role makes visit understandable – but surely he sees holding the title Prince of Wales at same time is entirely inappropriate? Not a shred of embarrassment? Or sensitivity to the problem here?”

Ms Jones, a football fan, told William that she would not be travelling to Qatar and described the fact the tournament is being held there as “tragic” and “a shame” that not more people can enjoy it.

In his first visit to the Senedd, William met politicians from the four parties there – Welsh Labour, the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

He told Manon Antoniazzi, the Senedd’s chief executive, that it was “good to be back” in Wales, adding: “It’s been busy but things are settling down now and I’m just now trying to figure everything out.”

Ms Jones, who gave William a tour of the building, described how it is one of the only parliaments still using a hybrid system of remote meetings.

William replied that he continues to have meetings online and joked about having connection issues.

The Prince of Wales listens to Senedd Llywydd Elin Jones (second left) as he meets members of the Welsh Youth Parliament
The Prince of Wales listens to Senedd Llywydd Elin Jones (second left) as he meets members of the Welsh Youth Parliament (Geoff Caddick/PA)

He later told Ms Jones that he has a few Welsh phrases that he uses, including ‘bore da’ – good morning.

He also said: “Dwi ddim by galli siarad gymraeg”, which means “I can’t speak Welsh”.

Fatma Nur Aksoy, 17, a member of the Youth Parliament for Newport East, said she raised the issue of mental health and wellbeing in young people and said it was clear the Prince of Wales “wanted to make a difference”.

Jake Dillon, 14, a member for Montgomeryshire said the Prince had seemed “down to earth”.

Ffion Fairclough, 17, a representative of Pontypridd, said she raised the issue of climate change with William but also said she found the discussion difficult because of her beliefs about the Prince of Wales title.

“There are some people in my constituency, and I am also of the belief, that somebody called the Prince of Wales should be elected by the people of Wales,” Ms Fairclough said.

“There are concerns about how, if he hasn’t been voted for by people in Wales, how can he make decisions about Wales?

“But if he can help make Wales a better place I’m happy with that.”

The Prince of Wales greets Rosaleen Moriarty Simmonds during a visit to the Senedd
The Prince of Wales greets Rosaleen Moriarty Simmonds during a visit to the Senedd (Geoff Caddick/PA)

Tegan Skyrme, 17, from Pembrokeshire, was representing Learning Disabilities Wales and said: “No matter what your views are about the royal family, there’s no denying he has a massive platform.

“If that’s a platform he’s going to use in a positive light then I think that’s a good thing.

“He seemed really open and willing to talk and educate himself about Wales and it’s people and what they may be struggling with.”

William, who had a number of private meetings during the visit, was expected to reiterate that there are no plans for any formal investiture ceremony.

His father, the King, was officially invested with the title Prince of Wales by the Queen during an event staged at Caernarfon Castle in July 1969.

William concluded his visit by meeting with the Welsh Youth Parliament to hear about issues affecting the younger generation.

Charles announced that William and wife Kate would become Prince and Princess of Wales on September 9, the day after the death of the Queen.

A few days later, William spoke on the telephone to Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, in a conversation in which the prince spoke of his “deep affection for Wales”.

The prince, who served as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot when living on Anglesey with wife Kate, “expressed his and the Princess of Wales’s honour in being asked by the King to serve the Welsh people” during that call.

William and Kate travelled to Anglesey and Swansea on September 27 – when royal mourning ended – to meet people and communities in Wales.

Both are understood to be keen to pave their own path in the roles, building trust and respect of the people of Wales over time.