Clive Bull 1am - 4am
Kate replaces Harry: Duchess takes key role as England rugby patron
28 January 2022, 07:31 | Updated: 28 January 2022, 07:46
The Duchess of Cambridge is set to become the new patron of the England Rugby Union, pitting her against her husband Prince William who became patron of the Welsh Rugby Union in 2016.
Listen to this article
The announcement will make Kate Middleton the first Royal to take over one of Prince Harry's former roles, a year after he was stripped of his honorary titles.
The Rugby Football Union are make the announcement ‘imminently’, ahead of England’s Six Nations campaign, which begins next week, sources told the Daily Mail.
Her Majesty confirmed in February of last year that it will not be possible for Harry and Meghan to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service as stepped away from the work of the royal family.
Prince Harry previously held the patronage since 2016, after taking over from the Queen.
The couple announced in March 2020 that they would be stepping back from their roles as senior working royals and they settled in Montecito, California.
A statement from the Royal Family issued at the time read: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family.
"Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service.
"The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family.
"While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family."
Prince Harry will be stepping down from his role as RFU Patron.— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 19, 2021
We would like to thank Prince Harry for his time and commitment to the RFU both in his position as Patron and Vice Patron. The RFU has greatly valued his contribution to promoting and supporting the game. pic.twitter.com/9Gp3oyuYnD
In a statement, the couple said they would offer to support the organisations they have represented and that "service is universal".
A spokesperson for Harry and Meghan said: "As evidenced by their work over the past year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the UK and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organisations they have represented regardless of official role.
"We can all live a life of service. Service is universal."
After this move, it is expected that the Queen may now start to redistribute more of couple's dormant patronages including Harry's previous position at The Rugby Football League.
The military, Commonwealth and charitable associations which reverted to the Queen are The Royal Marines, RAF Honington, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving.
Other roles which remain empty include The Queen's Commonwealth Trust, The Rugby Football League, The Royal National Theatre and The Association of Commonwealth Universities.