Prince William surprised everyone on Thursday night when he went to Villa Park to watch his favorite team, Aston Villa, play against Bosnian team Zrinjski Mostar in the Europa Cup. During the match, the Prince of Wales witnessed a highly suspenseful game, but his excitement peaked when Aston Villa scored a last-minute goal during injury time, securing a 1-0 victory. Eagle-eyed members of the audience spotted the royal figure in the crowd. This visit to the club came shortly after Prince William and the Princess of Wales visited Cardiff to commemorate the start of Black History Month and the 75th anniversary of the HMT Empire Windrush's arrival in the UK.
In the Welsh capital, William and Kate received a warm welcome for their first engagement at the Grange Pavilion. During this visit, the future King lightened the atmosphere by humorously asking a group of elderly men and women, “Who's pinching my bottom?” William and Kate engaged in conversations with members of the Windrush Cymru Elders, a group established in 2017 with the goal of promoting understanding of the concerns and needs of ethnic minority elders while also celebrating the contributions of the Windrush generation.
The pair learned about the real-life stories of the elderly individuals and how the Windrush Generation has had a beneficial influence on the Welsh community.
William and Kate were also acquainted with young individuals participating in the Ethnic Minority Youth Forum, a collective of 11 to 25-year-olds who aim to advocate for young people from minority ethnic backgrounds in Wales.
The royal couple had the opportunity to engage with young individuals from the Somali community, a significant segment of Cardiff's Grangetown district. During their discussions, they were informed about various community initiatives undertaken by members of Wales Somaliland Youth Links and Cardiff Bay Warriors FC. These projects ranged from football activities to addressing issues related to youth unemployment.
Prince William, a dedicated Aston Villa supporter, shared his enthusiasm for the team with Gary Lineker, recalling how he became a passionate football fan during his school days. He mentioned that he deliberately chose a team like Aston Villa, not following the popular clubs supported by his school friends (such as Manchester United or Chelsea), but rather opting for a mid-table team that could provide him with more emotionally charged moments.
Aston Villa has consistently boasted an impressive history. I have acquaintances who are avid Aston Villa supporters. One of my early experiences with FA Cup games was attending the Bolton vs. Aston Villa match in 2000. Unfortunately, Villa ended up losing to Chelsea.
The royal also shared, “It was an amazing experience. I sat among the fans wearing my red beanie and was seated with the passionate Birmingham fans. I had a wonderful time. The atmosphere and camaraderie were truly special, and I felt a strong connection to the club.”
It seems that Prince George, the Prince's young son, is following in his father's footsteps by accompanying him to several matches.