William has scored a huge own goal by not going to Lionesses' final

Where’s Willy? Prince William has scored a huge own goal by failing to fly to Australia for the Lionesses’ World Cup final. If the men were playing, every two-bob royal and politician would be booking their flights, says JANET STREET-PORTER

What’s Prince William’s hot date for this Sunday?

Helping Kate flip organic eggs for brekkie? Popping eco-friendly veggie burgers on the barbie for brunch?

Teaching George how to shoot pheasants in a caring, sharing way? Or will the Prince be polishing speeches on mental health and homelessness for high-profile events he’ll be attending next week?

All very worthy, and essential for William’s oft-stated goal of rebranding the monarchy and dragging it into the 21st century.

By choosing to stay at home this Sunday and watch the Women’s World Cup final on the telly, William has made the biggest blunder of his brief time in the number 2 Royal Job.

He seems to have forgotten that, as President of the Football Association, he must treat all his subjects – and that means male and female players – with equal respect.

By choosing to stay at home this Sunday and watch the Women’s World Cup final on the telly, William has made the biggest blunder of his brief time in the number 2 Royal Job. Pictured: Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman smiled as she spoke to the Prince only a month ahead of the team’s historic Euros win against Germany in 2022

Prince William has spent time with a number of England players over the years in his role as President of the FA but he will not attend the World Cup final on Sunday. Pictured: The Prince of Wales hugging Leah Williamson during the Euros final – which England won after beating Germany last year

William seems to have forgotten that, as President of the Football Association, he must treat all his subjects – and that means male and female players – with equal respect, writes Janet Street-Porter (pictured)

It’s taken England 57 years to reach a World Cup final – and who will be representing our proud nation? James Cleverly and Lucy Fraser. A couple of second division politicians with all the charisma of a damp tea towel. If men were on the pitch, it would be a very different story.

It’s not as if this event wasn’t in the sporting calendar for years. After winning the Euros last year, England were already one of the favourites.

READ MORE: Why isn’t Prince William flying to Australia to watch the Lionesses? Row breaks out over royal’s absence as he and Rishi Sunak remain in Britain for World Cup final while Queen Letizia jets out to watch Spain 

Surely someone in Future Planning at Buckingham Palace was placing a jumbo jet on standby ready to ferry out a five-star crew of Royals and bigwigs to fill up that Presidential box in Sydney’s stadium this Sunday? It appears not.

Our opponents have been fast off the starting blocks. Spain’s Queen Letizia (a former TV star who’s totally media savvy) has already bagged two front row seats with her daughter Princess Sofia.

As a nation, we love plans and celebrations. There was a detailed plan ready for the Queen’s death decades in advance. A plan for the new King’s Coronation. They even whisked up a plan for the Platinum Jubilee and that dodgy concert at Windsor. But NOBODY bothered to come up with any kind of plan for what to do if the Lionesses reached a World Cup footie final, something our men haven’t managed for over half a century.

Perhaps because the England team are (mostly) working-class women, not toffs, the men (and it is generally men) running Britain didn’t think it worth sketching out a grand celebration.

Did they not learn from the Euros? After our brilliant success in 2022, when the Lionesses dominated the news, attracted millions of viewers, and gave the hospitality industry a huge boost as we flocked to pubs and bars to celebrate, wouldn’t you have thought someone might have predicted this Sunday’s final? Because football isn’t just a game, it’s a chance for nations to strut their stuff in front of other, lesser, nations.

England’s Lionessess have not only won our hearts with their skills, determination and brilliant showmanship, they are leading the rebanding of Britain on the world stage.

The Lionesses made history after beating Australia 3-1 securing their place in England’s first World Cup Final since 1966

The Lionesses celebrated reaching their maiden World Cup final, and England’s first in nearly 60 years, by dancing to Sweet Caroline

Prince William hailed a ‘phenomenal’ performance by the Lionesses after their 3-1 victory against Australia on Wednesday but he won’t be at the final

This is not just a match, it’s a political statement. A piece of propaganda that will be watched by hundreds of millions of fans around the world. A chance to show that Britain – post Brexit – isn’t some diddling little second division side-kick, a dinky antique theme park peopled by corgis and gorgeous royal events with archers and drum beaters in ludicrous costumes.

This football match showcases modern Britain, one where working people can rise to the top, through their own skills, huge efforts and personal sacrifies, all with very little support from officialdom or the education system.

The Lionesses prove that – just like the Beatles – we have the sheer guts, brains and talent to be world beaters.

Football reaches more people than any other sport. It unites us, inspires us and raises our hopes. It makes us forget the bad times, the miserable moments, and all the things about our lives that are a bit crap.

The mortgage we can’t pay, the utility bills that never comes down. The miserable partner or the whingeing kids.

Queen Letizia (pictured alongside King Felipe) will be in Australia on Sunday to cheer on her Spanish counterparts in the World Cup final against England

Kensington Palace confirmed that Prince William, who is president of the Football Association, would not be making the trip Down Under, but instead will be roaring on the Lionesses from home

Watch a great football game and all that vanishes to the back of your mind in a huge outpouring of joy. If the England men’s team had managed to make it to a World Cup final, every Cabinet member, second-rate Royal and reality TV star would be grovelling to get on a plane to cheer them on.

The Lionesses deserve the very best. Their extraordinary 3-1 win over Australia in the semi final last Wednesday should have spurred Rishi Sunak to cancel his Taylor Swift spinning class, pack his joggers and book a first class ticket to Australia straight away.

British Airways should have laid on a special flight for William, George and Charlotte in full England kit.

When it comes to equality, football is still in the dark ages. Sarina Weigman is paid just £400,000 a year – compared to Gareth Southgate’s reputed £5 million. She’s only lost one match in the last four major tournaments for the Netherlands, and then England. England have only conceded 3 goals in six games in this tournament.

Southgate’s teams only managed to reach the semi finals in the World cup in 2018, the quarter finals in Qatar in 2022, and the Euro final in 2020. You could argue that Weigman should be replacing Southgate!

The double standards which exist in football are shocking. FIFA have increased the prize money to £86.1 million for the women’s tournament, but that is pathetic compared to the £346 million handed out to the men in Qatar. Women who play football professionally earn a pittance compared to men, many have second jobs and struggle to find sponsors.

Football isn’t offered as an option to girls in so many schools and yet the interest and the demand has grown exponentially since that win at the Euros. Broadcasting matches live has brought much needed advertising revenue and been a huge boost to the hospitality trade at a time the economy is stagnant.

Sarina Wiegman talks to players during a training session at Central Coast Stadium on August 18 ahead of Sunday’s final

And what has been the government’s response? The pubs can’t serve booze at 11am this Sunday without a special licence, so Levelling Up Minister Michael Gove has been phoning councils and pleading with them to rush through the paperwork, which normally takes five days. 

MPs could have voted for a Bank Holiday and special licensing hours, but they couldn’t be coaxed back from their sun-loungers for anything as trivial as a WORLD CLASS FOOTBALL MATCH PLAYED BY ENGLISH WOMEN.

It’s been estimated that Sunday’s match will boost the economy by £185 million and Aldi say they’re selling 45 bottles of prosecco a minute. Over 11 million people will watch the game at home, and around 3 million in pubs and restaurants – sneaking in their own booze, if Michael Gove hasn’t completed his phone-around.

Women’s football is Big Business. It’s good for girls and their self-esteem. It’s good for the economy. And any success that England can score abroad – particularly in a country that wants to dump our Royals and go Republican – must be nurtured and supported.

The Chief Executive of the FA Mark Bullingham has said Sarina Weigman ‘can have anything she wants’.

Unless she wants equal pay, equal prestige, equal support for her team, of course.

In his eyes, women are clearly second best.

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