Although the British royal family is surrounded by glitter and gold every step of the way, it doesn’t influence their judgment when it comes to choosing whom to cheer for on the pitch. When it comes to football, the Brits have always followed their roots and listened to their hearts, and so did Elizabeth II, Charles III, and the future head of state, William.
Talks of the Corridor
The late Elizabeth II tended to remain neutral in many aspects of her life, and football was no exception. Thus, the public was unaware of her favorite football club, although the monarch had been rooting for West Ham United since the early 1960s.
The fact that she was an avid Hammers supporter became public knowledge only in 2009 when Elizabeth II overheard a conversation in Buckingham Palace about its rivalry with Millwall. The monarch decided to chime in, and so the secret was out. In a matter of hours, the news spread, and upon inquiring with the Royal Family, the confirmation was obtained.
“The Queen didn’t want people to know she had favorites, as she wished to seem neutral. Yet, her cover was blown open once she voiced her opinion in a hallway conversation between a Millwall supporter and another Buckingham Palace employee. Everyone was quite shocked, to say the least. The Queen is not your run-of-the-mill West Ham supporter,” said an anonymous source to the Mirror.
Reading Between the Lines
As for Charles III, his favorite team became public knowledge a mere three years later, in 2012, when the now-reigning King visited Burnley as part of a charity event. The press was rightfully curious, as visiting a small town with only 73,000 inhabitants wasn’t too common for the then Prince of Wales.
“Burnley has gone through some tough times, and I am just here to find ways of bringing about a brighter future and to give the local community hope,” was the politically phrased explanation.
Yet, the truth was plain as day. Namely, the two-time (1920/21 and 1959/60) British champion had been on a downward spiral since 1970, dropping all the way down to the fourth division.
The climb back up was also gruesome, as they managed to secure their place in the Championship only in the mid-2000s. The dedication paid off in the 2008/09 season when they finished fifth and advanced to the Premier League via playoffs.
However, their stint (as well as the next two occasions, in 2014/15 and 2021/22) remained short-lived, as they quickly plummeted back down to the Championship. Nevertheless, Burnley can break the curse next season, as they won this year’s league and will have another go at the Premier League in 2023/24. This means we might already see the reigning King in Turf Moore’s VIP box this autumn.
The President of the FA
The King’s oldest son and next in line for the throne, Prince William, is also a keen football enthusiast. Since 2006, he has held the position of President of the English Football Association.
Although mostly a symbolic role, it still displays his affection for the game, as it is not mandatory for the Royal Family. From 2000 to 2006, Elizabeth II’s second son, the Duke of York, Andrew, held the same responsibility.
As for Prince William, his heart beats for Aston Villa, and one could even spot him from time to time in the Lions’ stands. This was the case in the 2015 FA Cup final when Aston Villa lost to Arsenal 0-4.
No Trophies (Yet)
Unfortunately for William, this was the closest he has come to witnessing his favorites lifting a trophy. Aston Villa won their last league title in 1980/81 and the Champions League in 1982, a mere month before the prince was born.
Weirdly enough, this hasn’t deterred William one bit; instead, it has only strengthened his bond with the team. The lack of success was the main reason he started supporting the side back in high school.
“All my friends were avid Manchester United or Chelsea fans, but I didn’t want to jump on board with those who were already winning. I wanted a mid-table team that would offer more emotions with both winning and losing matches. Also, Villa has a rich history backing them.
I have many friends who now also support Villa. One of the first matches I watched was an FA Cup match against Bolton. We even reached the final that year but lost to Chelsea.
Despite the loss, it was fantastic. Sitting in the stands, among the fans, wearing a red beanie, enjoying it all. A terrific atmosphere and camaraderie that you will cherish forever” reminisces the Prince to the BBC.