The Princess of Wales hosted a reception this afternoon for England’s World Champion Wheelchair Rugby Team.
The reception was at Hampton Court Palace.
In this photo, you see the Princess with Simon Johnson, chair of the Rugby Football League. Many readers will recall the Princess is the league’s patron, a position she has held since February 2022.
Below, the Princess as she greeted team members today.
We learn more about the team’s success in this People story.
The festive event was held in honor of the team’s win at the Rugby League World Cup Final in November 2022, where they defeated France 28-24 to become world champions. The victory was especially sweet for Team England, as their first World Cup win since the first Wheelchair tournament was held in 2008.
And additional perspective comes via this Sky Sports piece.
Victory for the host nation over their old rivals and reigning champions France in a tightly fought final brought a fitting end to the World Cup, which has succeeded in elevating wheelchair rugby league to previously unheard-of heights.
As well as delivering a long-awaited second triumph for England, the tournament introduced a new audience to the sport, saw the USA make their debut, and has led to semi-finalists Wales being set to embark on a ground-breaking tour of Brazil in February.
A video from today’s event.
The Princess of Wales has hosted a reception for England’s World Cup-winning Wheelchair Rugby League team, at Hampton Court Palace. Kate last year took over from Prince Harry as patron of the Rugby Football League. pic.twitter.com/pPgXsbj7lu
— Matt Wilkinson (@MattSunRoyal) January 19, 2023
Below, the Princess shakes hands with James Simpson.
We learn more about Mr. Simpson’s conversation with the Princess in this Town and Country article by Victoria Murphy.
“It’s been incredible, it’s been amazing,” he told Town & Country. “I’ve been playing this game for 10 years and we started off six teams in the shadows in sports halls, nobody really knew about us. The world cup we had last year, we had 1.5 million watching the final, 4,500 there watching. And to know that we had members of the royal family watching the game, to know that they took an interest in watching us play, it kind of gives you that feeling where you’re on this new level that we’ve never been on before where the country is watching at every level, watching us perform and backing us as an international side. It makes you feel brilliant that all the work you have put in since day one has paid off.”
The Belfast Telegraph has more about today’s reception.
Kate said she, William and their three children had watched the final on television, in which England narrowly defeated France 28-24.
Asked whether her children were interested in rugby, she said: “We’re always slightly competitive with each other. They all love sport and Louis is mad about rugby. They are at an age where they just love running around.”
The princess added: “I do it all: whenever I can squeeze in exercise, I do, even jumping on the trampoline with the children before school.”
The Princess with Josie Hill (left), James Simpson, and coach Tom Coyd (right) with the Rugby League Wheelchair World Cup trophy.
We return to The Belfast Telegraph piece.
Head coach Tom Coyd said Kate told him that Louis in particular was a fan of the sport.
He told the PA news agency: “She said Louis is doing tag rugby at school. She was saying that it is quite basic at the minute, that he is just getting to grips with the passing and the running around.
Coyd added: “She said it would be great for us to go and do an engagement session at the school where her children attend.”
Rebecca English of The Daily Mail reports, “The Princess is keen to show her support and shine a light on the increased interest in the sport.”
And from the Town and Country story.
Player Sebastien Bechara described how the win has given them a “massive platform” to help grow the sport and be part of events such as today’s. “It’s just amazing,” he said.
“It’s great to see how she knew what she was talking about,” he said of Kate. “She had watched the game with her kids. She was really happy and involved with it and she was really keen on trying it one day with her children. It just filled me with joy to see how she was really interested in it.”
A formal photo to commemorate the day.
Now for our look at what Kate wore.
She was in the Roland Mouret separates first seen during the December visit to Boston.
Beneath the blazer, the Princess wore an ivory knit top or sweater that is not yet identified. I will take a look for it this afternoon but would be surprised if it is identifiable from the available photos. UPDATE: With thanks to Antonelle for her comment, this looks like the UFO sweater worn in December 2020 on day two of the royal train trip.
Today’s pumps look like the Gianvito Rossi 105 in Bordeaux suede.
The Princess wore a new (to us) Daniella Draper necklace, the Gold Citrine Baby Treasure Necklace ($1050).
The necklace is made of 100% recycled solid 9-carat yellow gold, set with a citrine stone. Thank you to Data Duchess for her speedy ID of the stone used in the piece.
The Princess also wore her Mini Cupid Hoop Earrings ($255) by Daniella Draper.
Learn more about James Simpson in this video.
🗣️ “Life-altering, not life-ending.”
🏴 #EnglandRL Wheelchair and @RLWC2021 ambassador @SimWheelchairRL talks through his journey from the Armed Forces to the international stage of Wheelchair Rugby League.#VEDay75 pic.twitter.com/Ft74hZipi3
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) May 8, 2020
Sky News offers about one minute of video.
See highlights from the championship match against France in this video.