Why Kate Middleton and Prince William Could Be Getting Competitive Soon (Hint: Rugby Is Involved)

The sporty couple could go head to head when they back rival rugby teams after Queen Elizabeth passes on Prince Harry's former duties

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend Wimbledon Championships Tennis Tournament at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2021 in London, England.
Kate Middleton, Prince William, Billie Jean King. Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage

An oh-so-friendly face-off in the stands could be on the cards when the next rugby season kicks off in the winter.

Kate Middleton is said to be in pole position to be the royal head of English rugby — putting her head to head with husband Prince William, who is the patron of the Welsh national team.

Kate, 39, is reported to be likely to be replace her brother-in-law Prince Harry in two of his patronages, which he gave up when he left his role as a working member of the family. These are the royal patron of the Rugby Football Union and of the Rugby Football League. Kate is set be set to given the patronages by Queen Elizabeth in time for the Rugby Football League World Cup in October and November, according to The Sunday Times.

The story also said that Princess Anne, 70, was "nailed on" to replace Harry, 36, as Captain General of the Royal Marines. And it's a history-making move, if true — she would be the first woman to hold the post.

Neither Buckingham Palace (for the Queen) nor Kensington Palace (for Kate and William) would comment on the report, and it is not believed that any new royal duties will be announced imminently.

kate middleton
Michael Middleton and Kate Middleton. Julian Finney/Getty Images

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The two patronages would add to the Duchess of Cambridge's other sporting duties as patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (which hosts the Wimbledon tournament), the Lawn Tennis Association, SportsAid (which helps emerging athletes get funding and top training) and the 1851 Trust, which inspires young people into sport.

Kate and William's competitive spirit is well-known. They play tennis together at their home at Anmer Hall, as well as at a private club in London, and they have rowed, played cricket and sailed against each other in public during royal tours and on official duties.

On top of attending the recent Wimbledon championships and the UEFA Euro 2020 soccer championships with William (Prince George even tagged along for the latter!), the Duchess has regularly joined her husband at rugby matches — most notably Welsh rugby matches that he has attended in his role as patron.

But a few years ago, her sister, Pippa Middleton, gave an insight into how passionate her family is about England rugby. "[It] was a big thing in our family, and the focal point was international matches.... We'd plan our weekends around the matches.... If we lost, my dad would be in a sate of despair for the rest of the afternoon, as if he'd actually lost the game himself," Pippa wrote in Vanity Fair in 2014.

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton with Prince George at Wembley on July 11th. Frank Augstein/Pool/Getty

For Harry, the Duke of Sussex, giving up the roles with the two different rugby bodies would have been a tough one — he loves the game, and clearly relished representing the sports. He helped host the draw for the Rugby Football League World Cup contest at Buckingham Palace in January 2020.

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