Prince William surprises Lionesses at training ground ahead of World Cup

The Prince of Wales met staff and players as well as taking part in a game of table football during his visit to the Lionesses training ground, as Chris Ship reports

Prince William has surprised the England Women's Football team at their training ground ahead of the team's departure to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

England won the Euros in 2022 and are second favourites to win behind the USA.

The Prince of Wales, who is president of the Football Association, played table football with the team while chatting with the squad.

William also presented an honorary CBE to England manager Sarina Wiegman during the visit to St George's Park, in Burton upon Trent.

The Prince of Wales poses with the England Women's football squad. Credit: PA

Addressing the team and staff, William said the "sky is the limit" as he praised them for what they have done to advance women's sport.

He said: "I can't believe another tournament has come around again. You've set yourself up now and the only way is up.

"What you did for the country last year at the Euros was phenomenal and where you're going to take women's sport, not just football, is incredible.

"You're a great team, the vibe I get from you all is fantastic. There are a lot of teams out there who could learn a lot from the way you work together.

"Huge respect, and go get them."

The Prince of Wales played table football with the squad. Credit: PA

As he handed Ms Wiegman her honorary CBE, William joked that he did not usually "travel up and down the country to present them" but said: "There's one person that deserves this more than anyone else."

As the team clapped and cheered, the head coach said: "I really did not expect this. It's very pretty."

She added: "Thank you very much, but it's all about the team. I am so honoured, I feel a bit emotional. Let's go and make some more history."

Speaking afterwards, Ms Wiegman said she had "no clue" about the presentation.

She said: "I feel so honoured and privileged to be in this position."

The Prince of Wales presents an honorary CBE to England manager Sarina Wiegman. Credit: PA

William was also seen chatting to captain Leah Williamson, right-back Lucy Bronze and longest-serving Lioness Jill Scott.

William spent about an hour with The Lionesses, who had not known he was coming, after the FA's chief executive Mark Bullingham welcomed him to the centre at about 2.50pm.

The Lionesses face Portugal in a warm-up match at Milton Keynes on Saturday July 1 before flying to Australia four days later.

The tournament starts on Thursday July 20 and ends a month later on Sunday August 20.

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