British queen steps down as rugby patron
Replaced by her grandsons in two positions
William takes Wales role, Harry gets England
Queen Elizabeth II’s reign over English and Welsh rugby is at an end, with the sport’s royal seal of approval passing on to a new generation.
With the Queen now aged 90, Prince Harry and Prince William will replace their grandmother as patrons of the English and Welsh rugby unions respectively, it was announced Tuesday.
Britain’s long-serving monarch will step down as the patron of 25 UK organizations, including the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the British Cycling Federation, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Holocaust Memorial Trust.
The Queen will pass the patronages on to other members of the royal family in the coming months.
According to Buckingham Palace, she is patron of more than 600 organizations and will continue to represent hundreds of other charities and institutions.
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The decision follows the example set by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who resigned from a number of patronages when he turned 90 in 2011, Buckingham Palace said.
The Queen has been patron of the English Rugby Union (RFU) since taking over the role from her father, King George V, in 1952. She has attended two World Cups in the United Kingdom, in 1991 and 1999.
Both William and Harry are keen rugby fans and have served as vice-patrons to the Welsh and English unions since 2007 and 2010 respectively.
They were pictured enjoying a good-natured rivalry during the 2015 Rugby World Cup when Wales upset host nation England in the pool stage.
“His Royal Highness has been a great ambassador, not only for the Welsh Rugby Union, but for young people and for sport generally,” WRU president Dennis Gethin said in a statement.
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RFU president Peter Baines said it had been “a privilege and an honor” to have the Queen as patron for more than 60 years.
“She has been a fantastic supporter of the union and we thank her for that and her contribution to the game of rugby in England,” he added.
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“Prince Harry has been a regular at England Tests at Twickenham … and a brilliant ambassador of our work in the community and our charities as well as internationally for the union as president of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.”