The Royal Family have gone a bit football crazy in recent months. The Duke of Cambridge, President of the Football Association, has led the way with high profile support for the women’s team who made the semi finals of the World Cup and an interview for BBC One with Gary Lineker ahead of the FA Cup Final earlier this summer.
In past weeks all three royal social media accounts hinted at their love of the beautiful game by celebrating, in style, the anniversary of England’s men winning the World Cup in 1966. Add that to ongoing reports of support for various teams – Premier League and otherwise – by different members of the family and one thing is sure. As the Premier League gets under way for another year, football has the royal seal of approval. Here are five teams who can count on royal support in this new season.
1. West Ham
It’s an emotional season for the Hammers as they prepare to play their final matches at their legendary home, the Boleyn Ground. The famous stadium, at Upton Park, gets its names from the area’s associations with Anne Boleyn but the team apparently has a very famous royal supporter in the early 21st century.
The Queen is reported to be a big fan of the Hammers whose performance in the top flight of football is perhaps best described as intermittent. Her love of the club was reported back in 2009 and it is said to date back to the her admiration of the club under the management of Ron Greenwood who took the helm at the Boleyn in the 1960s and 1970s. Her support is perhaps appropriate – when West Ham leave the Boleyn after 112 years they will play their home games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium.
But one of West Ham’s big London rivals might have a thing or two to say about this claim of royal support. Until it was reported The Queen was cheering on the happy Hammers she was said to be a big fan of Arsenal. In fact, during a meeting with the team at Buckingham Palace The Queen was seen chatting happily to many of their squad and their manager, Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners can definitely count on the backing of Prince Harry who has been revealed to be a fan of the north London side. The prince, who has been seen playing football on several occasions with big brother William, is perhaps the happiest royal football fan at the moment – his team collected silverware at the end of last season claiming the FA Cup for the twelfth time.
3. Aston Villa
That win might have caused some sibling rivalry as the team Arsenal beat was Aston Villa, perhaps the team with the most high profile royal support. Prince William hasn’t just mentioned his love of the club, he has talked about it in depth even admitting to nerves ahead of that big FA Cup final earlier this year.
The Midlands based team who, like West Ham, play in claret and blue was picked by the future king because of their long history and because William said he wanted to be different from his schoolfriends who were all giving their backing to Manchester United or Chelsea. And he’s already said he hopes Prince George and Princess Charlotte follow in his football footsteps and pick Villa as their team.
But The Duke of Cambridge has a Premier League rival for his family’s football attentions right on his doorstep. Norwich City are back in the top flight this time round and as well as being about as local a team as George and Charlotte will get at their Anmer Hall home, the Canaries already boast a royal supporter – The Duke of York is a big fan of the Norfolk side.
Prince Andrew, who was President of the Football Association for six years before handing over to his nephew in 2006, might have trouble getting any more royal fans on side. His team have been in and out of the top flight in recent years – becoming a royal fan of this club might be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
Perhaps George and Charlotte will prefer to follow the lead of their paternal grandfather, The Prince of Wales, who hasn’t let the glitter of the Premiership affect his football affiliations. Prince Charles has admitted he is fan of Championship side Burnley FC.
The side, yet another royal pick who play in claret and blue, was revealed as the club of choice of the heir to the throne at a dinner at Windsor Castle by the man himself. But despite being founder members of the football league and champions twice, several decades ago, Burnley are now in the second tier of English football.
But with a good run who knows what this season will bring? These royal fans, like millions of others across the country, are about to start living the excitement and disappointment that only football can bring.
Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr