UK & World News
William: England Team Can Inspire The Nation
The Duke of Cambridge says the England football team could inspire the nation as British Olympians and Paralympians did at London 2012.
Speaking at the Football Association's 150th anniversary gala, Prince William, who is the FA president, said: "Our national players are role models for millions of young people and I think we need to give those highly pressured and driven players the support and training they need to live up to their rightly exalted status.
"We were as a nation so proud of our Team GB athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics, for their success on the field but also for the way they conducted themselves in interviews and with their competitors.
"It is perfectly possible to say the same about our national teams - they are good people, ambitious for success and to a man and woman aware of their status as role models."
The gala event was staged at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London, the site where the founding fathers of English football met in 1863.
As well as congratulating Roy Hodgson's England on reaching next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil, William also praised FA chairman Greg Dyke's commission to look into improving the fortunes of the national side.
"I am glad to see that, under the new chairman and commission, there is renewed vigour to improve the competitive quality of our national game, for all our sakes.
"But I would also encourage us to make sure we retain sportsmanship at the heart of this energetic drive for success.
"Regrettably, Her Majesty's reign includes only one time that England won the World Cup, but I know that Greg and Roy are trying to make up for lost time now."
William said he was "heartened" to see how seriously the FA and other organisations are trying to stamp out racism and discrimination in the game, but said there is "sadly more work to do".
His comments came after Manchester City's Yaya Toure complained of fans making monkey noises during his team's midweek Champions League victory over CSKA Moscow in Russia.
England manager Roy Hodgson hailed William as a "tremendous supporter" of the national side when he took his turn to speak at the gala dinner on Saturday evening.
Hodgson revealed the second in the line to the throne also offered his congratulations after England qualified for the World Cup next summer, but steered clear of predicting any success in Brazil.
"We obviously spoke about the qualification. The Prince has been a tremendous supporter all the way through and has been up at St George's Park (the National Football Centre) to meet us, and I have thanked him for that once again this evening.
"He sent me a letter to congratulate us on the qualification and has also just given his congratulations once again and praised us on achieving the goal we set out to reach: Brazil."
William's speech came as Buckingham Palace released a new portrait of Prince George with his parents following his christening at Clarence House.
The photo shows George smiling at his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, with William by her side.