Prince William has presented 150 medals ahead of Buckingham Palace’s first ever football match, which will be held later today.
When he was giving the awards to the grassroots volunteers in recognition of exceptional service to the sport, William quipped: “You will be playing football on my grandmother’s lawn. One warning, though: if anyone breaks a window, you answer to her.”
PHOTOS FOR FULL GALLERY
Jokes aside, the new dad, who is president of the Football Association and hosting the match as part of the celebrations to mark the FA’s 150th anniversary, welcomed his guests with a sincere speech.
“This magnificent home, Buckingham Palace, is at the heart of the nation, and so there cannot be a more fitting setting to celebrate our national game, and to celebrate all of you,” William said.
“At its best, football is a powerful force for good in society. It binds people from different backgrounds, communities, faiths and abilities – and gives them a common interest, a unifying identity.
I believe over its 150 years, football has remained a wonderful example of the power of community and of our ability to come together to organise and to enjoy a simple pastime.”
The game will see the palace lawn become the world’s most exclusive football pitch when two of England’s oldest amateur clubs play in the unique Southern Amateur League fixture.
The world’s oldest Association Football club, Civil Service FC, will play against their local rivals Polytechnic FC in the match, for which Prince William asked permission from his grandmother the Queen.
Her Majesty is at Balmoral while the grounds of the palace are opened for the special occasion.
Wembley groundsman Tony Stones worked with the royal household gardeners to create a pitch in the 40-acre gardens of the famous landmark.
Markings for the pitch – measuring 100m by 60m – began last month and have been mowed with criss cross stripes, just like those at Wembley.