Prince William embraced England’s European Women’s Championship winning “lioness” – as they brought the country’s first international football trophy since 1966 – on Sunday.
The Duke of Cambridge joined the ceremony in his role as Football Association president and broke an increasingly old tradition that royals do not embrace in public.
William congratulated the players as they went on to beat Germany 2–1 in extra time to collect their winners’ medals.
English actress Lisa Riley was among those who told her 132,000 Twitter followers at the time: “Prince William is embracing the players… CHAMPIONS WORD The whole nation is behind you @Lioneses you #england and #football CONGRATULATIONS # Credits to Lionnesses #LionesLive.”
Broadcaster Alastair Stewart wrote: “From the appointment for HRH Prince William, a hug to @leahcwilliamson!”
He continued: “Thank you HRH Prince William! This is real excitement…and pride!!!”
William later sent a message to the team via his official Twitter account, declaring him an inspiration.
He wrote: “Sensational. An incredible victory @lionesses and the whole nation can’t be prouder of you all. Amazing to make history at Wembley tonight, congratulations! W”
William then cited a tweet from the Lioness’s official account, which read, “We’ve done it.” He said: “Yes you have and you have inspired a nation as well.”
Queen Elizabeth II also issued an official statement congratulating the team through her office at Buckingham Palace.
Signed, Elizabeth R., it read: “My heartfelt congratulations, and my family, go out to you all for winning the European Women’s Football Championship. This is a significant achievement for the entire team, including your support staff.
“Championships and your performance in them have won accolades. However, your success goes far beyond the trophy you have earned.
“You all have set an example that will be an inspiration for the girls and women of today and for generations to come. I hope you are as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are today.” The results are on.”
Royals have not historically been known to engage in physical contact with members of the public, however, there are no formal rules forbidding it and modern families are far more touchy-feely than in the past.
The royal family’s own website reads: “There are no mandatory codes of behavior when meeting the Queen or any member of the Royal Family, but many wish to follow the traditional forms.
“For men it’s a neck bow (just off the head) while women do a short courtesy. Others prefer a normal handshake.”
Royals have become increasingly willing to skip the formalities in recent years, with a significant debate raging over how attractive Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were at royal events since visiting Britain for the first time.
Most recently, William was praised for hugging 66-year-old William Burns, who was overcome with emotion after meeting the future king at a walkout in Glasgow in May.
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