Prince William hit the women’s locker room on Wednesday.
The prince, 32, was visiting a residential coaching and training center in Burton upon Trent (some three hours northwest of London) to send off the England women’s squad the Lionesses before they play in the World Cup on June 6.
The new dad, who opened the national football center, St. George’s Park, with wife Kate in October 2012, was met by the group in the changing room. He greeted them all before posing for a group picture.
“As long as I don’t have to wear the kit!” he quipped of putting on the Lionesses’ colors. “Someone say cheese!” was called out and he responded, “I think No. 1 would be more appropriate.”
He didn’t hide his own team spirit. A proud Aston Villa fan, he’s set to hand over the coveted FA (Football Association) Cup to the winners of the final on May 30 to either his favorite team or their opponents, Arsenal.
William, who is president of the FA – a group that dates back to 1863 – told the Lionesses, “I’m obviously very worried about it. I’m giving the cup so it’s either going to be a very good day or,” and he gestured holding out the trophy and said “aagh . . . a bad one.”
William sent the Lionesses off with a supportive chat, saying the World Cup in Canada is a “great platform to raise yourselves to the next level.” And he added that with it being televised, “we will be able to see how you’re doing back home.”
At the end of the visit, the women handed the proud dad a mini soccer jersey with ‘Charlotte’ and a number ‘1’ printed on the back.
Senior women’s coach Mark Sampson praised the team and William’s backing. “It’s a big moment for the players and the team and it speaks volumes about where the women’s game is the support that we are getting,” Sampson said.
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As he headed out to continue his tour, William said “as long as I don’t have to play like last time.”
Later, he watched a Homeless FA training session. The charity, now under the umbrella of William’s homeless youth group Centrepoint, uses soccer to “engage, inspire and create opportunities for those who’ve experienced homelessness,” says Gareth Parker, the charity head.
Speaking to the group, who were mainly from nearby Derby, William urged them to watch the games and said, “Give the girls some support. They’ll show the boys how to play. Some of the girls’ striking ability is seriously impressive.”
For more royal photos and all the details on Will and Kate’s growing family, pick up People’s Princess Charlotte collector’s edition, in stores May 15. Or download the digital version at peoplespecials.com