Kate Middleton to Take Over Prince Harry's Former Role as Rugby Patron

Kate's new patronage sets up a husband vs. wife sports rivalry with Prince William

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry
Kate Middleton and Prince Harry at 2019's Anzac Day commemorative service . Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

Kate Middleton is set to become the new royal patron of the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League, a role previously held by her brother-in-law Prince Harry.

The move, which was previously reported by the Sunday Times and is set to be announced "imminently" according to the Daily Mail, would mark the first one of Prince Harry's former patronages to be redistributed to another member of the royal family since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped back from their roles as senior working royals.

Kate, 40, is known for her athleticism, from playing tennis (as patron of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, she's a fixture at Wimbledon) to taking on husband Prince William in yacht racing. She showed off her rugby skills during a 2017 trip to Paris, where she tossed a ball around with young players — in a dress and heels, no less!

Kate's new role also sets up a husband vs. wife sports rivalry in the Cambridge household, as Prince William, 39, is patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton. Samir Hussein/WireImage

Pippa Middleton, Kate's younger sister, revealed to Vanity Fair in 2014 that rugby was a family-wide event growing up.

"Picture the scene. It's Saturday afternoon in the Middleton household. The atmosphere is heavy with expectation," Pippa wrote. "All eyes are on the television ... we're watching England play Ireland in the 1996 Five Nations Rugby tournament ... Rugby 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 state of despair for the rest of the afternoon, as if he'd actually lost the game himself."

William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridg
Prince William and Kate Middleton. Danny Lawson - WPA Pool/Getty

Harry and Meghan Markle gave up their royal involvement with numerous U.K. charities when they officially stepped back from their roles as senior working members of the royal family last year, and the patronages reverted to Queen Elizabeth.

England Rugby was among the charities to thank Prince Harry for his support in Feb. 2021, when it was confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would not be returning to their royal roles.

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In addition to the charitable positions that previously belonged to Prince Harry and Meghan, all of Prince Andrew's military affiliations and royal patronages were returned to the Queen earlier this month amid the sexual assault lawsuit against him. They are also expected to be redistributed to other members of the family.

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