Prince of Wales ‘too busy’ to go to Qatar – avoiding awkward Wales v England face-off
The new Prince of Wales is too busy to go to Qatar to support either Wales or England at the World Cup, it has been confirmed.
Despite being the Prince of Wales and president of the English FA his household said that his diary was too full to attend.
However, they said that his office may look at making arrangements if England manager Gareth Southgate’s team reach the final.
His presence could have drawn criticism over Qatar’s human rights record and criminalisation of LGBTQ+ relationships. His absence will also avoid raising the awkward issue of whether he is there to support Wales or England, who are playing each other on 29 November in Group B.
A Kensington Palace spokesman said the prince had no plans to attend the World Cup, which begins on November 20, adding “we hadn’t planned to go due to the busy winter schedule”.
He and the Princess of Wales do have a number of engagements throughout the World Cup, including a flight to Boston, USA to hand out the Earthshot Prize on December 2.
He supported the England women’s team during their victorious run in the Euro 2022 tournament and presented the players with their winning medals after they beat Germany in the final at Wembley.
Sports associations and politicians have been struggling as to how to take part in the Qatar World Cup while showing their displeasure at the nation’s human rights infringements.
Wales manager Rob Page confirmed yesterday that captain Gareth Bale will wear the ‘One Love’ armband at the World Cup in support of the LGBTQ+ community, regardless of whether the armband is sanctioned by FIFA.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats meanwhile have called on First Minster Mark Drakeford to cancel his plans to visit Qatar during this year’s World Cup alongside Economy Minister Vaughan Gething and Arts and Sports Minister Dawn Bowden.
In contrast, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has revealed that he will boycott the World Cup in Qatar next month, and says neither will any of his senior colleagues.
Veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said he was arrested after staging the first LGBT protest in Qatar, interpreted William’s decision as a snub to World Cup hosts and urged celebrities and foreign governments to follow his leadership.
Tatchell added: “Everyone should stay away to signal their opposition to the despotic tyranny in Doha and to stand in solidarity with Qataris who are striving for democracy and human rights.
“The suggested excuse that Prince William’s decision is because of a diary clash is implausible, given that the dates of the World Cup have been well known for over a year.”
William attended the 2010 World Cup with his brother the Duke of Sussex when South Africa hosted the event, but missed the 2014 tournament, hosted by Brazil, although Harry was a spectator, and did not travel to Russia for the 2018 event.
Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s head of priority campaigns, said: “Prince William’s diary commitments are obviously his own affair, but it’s inevitable that this will be seen by some as the prince ‘staying away’ from the World Cup in a subtle royal protest over human rights issues in Qatar.
“The manner in which Prince William’s attendance is already being discussed shows once again that human rights issues continue to overshadow the build-up to this World Cup.
“The onus is now very much on the Qatari authorities and on Fifa to respond to calls for a properly funded migrant worker compensation fund.
“We need to see the Qatari authorities ensuring that limited labour reforms are not allowed to fall into disrepair once the World Cup ends, and we need to see Qatar abolishing the country’s outrageous anti-LGBTI laws and regulations.”
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