'What a joke': Prince William and Rishi Sunak face backlash over not attending World Cup final

Prince of Wales and Princess Charlotte wishing the Lionesses good luck and Rishi Sunak watching the game. Credit: @KensingtonRoyal / @RishiSunak

The Prince of Wales and the prime minister are facing a continued backlash over their decision not to attend the Women’s World Cup final in Australia.

Queen Letizia of Spain and her daughter Ifanta Sofia were there to watch their country take the win.

William, the Princess of Wales, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis watched the tense game together at their Anmer Hall country home in Sandringham, Norfolk.

The prime minister also watched the match in London, and tweeted pictures and messages throughout.

But critics have suggested heir to the throne William, who is president of the FA, and Mr Sunak would have travelled to watch the clash against Spain had it been the men’s team playing.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who travelled to Australia to watch the match with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, said: “Prince William is, of course, the president of the FA and is a tremendous supporter of the sport.

“I know that he’s disappointed that he isn’t able to be here today but he has sent a message of good luck to the Lionesses.

She said of Mr Sunak: “Only about a month or so ago he and I were at 10 Downing Street with the Lionesses, and I know he sent a message to the Lionesses wishing them congratulations and luck today."

She insisted he feels “very passionately about the women’s game”, while schools minister Nick Gibb told Times Radio that the PM will be “glued to the television” to follow the Lionesses.

In his letter to the Lionesses, Mr Sunak said he will be “watching and cheering” them on.

But fans on Twitter appeared unimpressed, with one remarking “A letter? what a joke”, and another adding: “Big deal… he should be there.”

Former England goalkeeper Pauline Cope branded it a “shame” that William had not travelled to Australia, saying: “This should have been pencilled in his diary from day dot, after we won the Euros and qualified for the World Cup.”

Cope, who has 60 England caps and played in the 1995 World Cup, told Times Radio: “Let’s be honest, if it was the men’s World Cup, they would all be here.

Veteran broadcaster Jon Sopel suggested it was “inconceivable” that William and the PM would not travel if it was the men’s team playing.

Sopel tweeted: “Happy to accept might be impossible for the PM, given other commitments. But Prince William? Why?”

TV presenter Piers Morgan tweeted: “With respect, YRH (Your Royal Highness), you should have got on a plane.

“Ridiculous that the Queen of Spain is attending the World Cup Final to support her nation’s team, and you won’t be there despite being President of the FA.”

Meanwhile presenter Dan Walker tweeted his support for William.

“Not sure why some people are getting so angry about Prince William not going to the game,” he said.

“We all know he’d get hammered for the cost & climate impact of flying all the way to Australia for one football match.”

Did any of the British royals attend?

No senior member of the British royal family attended the match.

The King urged the Lionesses to “roar to victory” and tweeted is consolations after their loss.

He and the Queen, who are believed to be in Birkhall in Aberdeenshire, were among the millions of Britons following the game from afar on Sunday.

Heir to the throne William apologised to the Lionesses for not being there in a video message on Saturday.

The prince was joined by his daughter Princess Charlotte who was clutching a football.

After England lost 1-0 to Spain, the heir to the throne, in a personal message on his Kensington Royal social media account, thanked the squad for their “footballing memories” and said their “spirit and drive” had “paved the way for generations to come”.

Why didn't Prince William attend?

It is understood William made the decision not to go because a trip to Australia would involve flying across the world for a very short period of time.

William is on his annual summer break.

Charles is King of Australia and is yet to travel there since his accession.

Questions have been raised about the diplomatic implications of William visiting the country before his father has had chance as the new monarch.

It was also very unclear whether Australia would have been responsible for footing the bill for William’s security costs during his stay.

Prince William sends a message to the Lionesses after their 1-0 defeat to Spain

Has the Prince of Wales travelled to an England match before?

In October, he had not planned to attend the men’s World Cup, staged by controversial hosts Qatar, due to a busy winter schedule.

But before Southgate’s squad was knocked out in the quarter-final, it was understood William’s office was looking at making possible arrangements for him to attend if the men reached the final.

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

He also visited them in person in June at St George’s Park to wish them good luck before they left for Australia.

The late Queen attended the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley and presented captain Bobby Moore with the trophy.

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