Monday, 8 Mar 2021

Prince William seen as a good fit to replace Harry as patron of Rugby League

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The Duke of Sussex had been the patron of the Rugby Football League (RFL) and Rugby Football Union. However, Harry’s royal patronages along with his honorary military titles were stripped from him on Friday, after he and Meghan confirmed they would not be returning as working members of the Royal Family. The announcement came as a blow to the RFL authorities, as the Duke of Sussex was expected to play a key role in promoting this autumn’s World Cup.

The sporting festival will take place in October and November, and will be hosted by towns and cities across the north of England.

RFL officials are keen for a high profile replacement to be appointed as soon as possible.

A source close to senior figures at the RFL told the Telegraph: “The World Cup is going to take place in the north of England, which is very significant at this time and very important for the royal household to acknowledge and get behind, particularly as it will be happening in many towns where major events are not usually held, such as St Helens, Doncaster and Hull.

“The Duke of Sussex was a high profile figure who embraced the World Cup and we hope the next appointment will be a continuation of that.”

Prince William is said to be seen as a natural replacement for his younger brother.

The Duke of Cambridge already enjoys a good working relationship with the RFL’s current chair, Simon Johnson, through their time together at the Football Association.

Mr Johnson served as the director of corporate affairs and chief operating officer at the FA and worked together with Prince William after his appointment as President in 2006.

A source confirmed: “There is an existing relationship.”

The RFL had been very keen for Prince Harry to continue in his role as patron for the sport.

A source told the Telegraph that Harry’s departure would cause disruption to their World Cup plans, which the Prince was expected to front up.

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They added: “We were completely blindsided by the news to be honest.

“We were very keen to keep Prince Harry, he’s been fantastic.”

The RFL said it was for the Queen to decide on Prince Harry’s replacement.

A statement released by the organisation said: “We’re honoured that we should have anybody from the royal family as our patron and look forward to hearing from Her Majesty about who it might be.”

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