On 2nd February 2022, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was announced as the new patron of the Rugby Football League and the Rugby Football Union, taking over her brother-in-law, Prince Harry.
Will Kate Middleton’s love for rugby, royal status, and astute sports fashion help her reshape the rugby sports landscape for the women’s community?
Stepping into the rugby throne
After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to step away from their senior duties, they had to return their royal patronages and honorary military appointments to Her Majesty. During the one-year “cooling off” period after Harry and Meghan left the Royal family, the Queen hadn’t taken the step to distribute the charitable and organisational ties across the rest of the royals. Kate Middleton was the first to receive such an honour. She was made the figurehead of England Rugby just in time for the Six Nations Rugby Championship, which began on 5th February 2022. In just a few days, England are due to play Wales at Twickenham Stadium on 26th February.
This will be an important game for both Kate and Prince William, as the royal duo are both rugby patrons. Prince William has been a figurehead of the Welsh Rugby Union since 2016. Now, the happy couple are channelling their love for rugby, and it must be for that reason that the Queen entrusted Kate Middleton to take over such an honourable role.
Promoting women’s inclusivity in sport Recently, women’s rugby has been receiving more attention than ever, and it’s “one of the country’s fastest-growing female sports”, according to the Telegraph. In 2019, it was announced that a number of English women’s club rugby players would be paid for the first time. However, this was long overdue, as their male counterparts started receiving a wage in the sport almost a quarter of a decade ago.
Despite the progress that’s been made, the women’s community in sport needs an extra boost, and Kate Middleton fits perfectly into this ambition. She is already the royal patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and her love for the sports is beyond evident. Bill Sweeney, Chief Executive of the Rugby Football Union, said: “As rugby clubs have re-opened across the country, players, officials, and volunteers are celebrating being back in the game together, and we know the support of the Duchess will be greatly valued from our grassroots clubs and fast-growing women and girls’ game right up to our elite Men’s and Women’s England teams.” RFU Captain Sarah Hunter sees Kate Middleton as a “great advocate for community and grassroots” who will be able to adequately promote women’s involvement in sport as a female with such a status.
A sportswear trendsetter
Kate herself announced the appointment on Twitter. She said she is thrilled to support “two fantastic organisations who are committed to harnessing the power that sport can have in bringing communities together and helping individuals flourish”. The post was accompanied by a video of Kate, dressed in a blue long sleeve hooded top and casual trainers, throwing a rugby ball in the grounds of Kensington Palace, complemented by clips of rugby stars across both the men’s and women’s game. The Duchess of Cambridge is vastly known for her trendsetting abilities. While her staple outfits include classy, fashion-forward pieces, she’s recently taken a keen interest in sportswear. The likelihood of seeing her in trainers is rising, especially after adding one more sport to her patronship.
Just a few days ago, she joined the women’s rugby team for a friendly game at Twickenham. Her participation was welcomed warmly by the team, while her sports style was up to par yet again.
Kate Middleton is a true trendsetter. Not just in terms of her fashion but also in terms of harnessing her royal charisma for a good cause. We hope that the Duchess’ patronship will give women’s inclusivity in sport a much-needed boost with more initiatives to come.