The Duchess of Cambridge has been confirmed as patron of the Rugby Football League and the Rugby Football Union, taking over roles from the Duke of Sussex.
The patronages, given to the Duchess by the Queen, were said by the palace to “closely align with Her Royal Highness’ longstanding passion for sport and the lifelong benefits it can provide”.
It is the first of the Duke’s former patronages to be handed out to another member of the family, after he chose to step back from life as a working royal to move to California.
It will see the Duchess champion the England teams in fierce rivalry with her husband the Duke of Cambridge, who is patron of the Welsh Rugby Union.
The announcement, which has been widely trailed in the press, was made ahead of the start of the Six Nations this weekend.
It will see the Duchess, who is said to be a rugby fan, turn out in support of the country of her birth, years after she wore red to cheer on Wales at a 2012 match when the Cambridges lived in Anglesey.
At the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup, the Duchess wore a red scarf to join the Duke of Cambridge in cheering on his patronage, while his younger brother wore the white shirt of England.
Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “We are truly honoured by the appointment of the Duchess of Cambridge as the Rugby Football League’s Royal Patron.
“We are delighted to welcome her as we prepare to host Men’s, Women’s, Wheelchair and Physical Disability Rugby League World Cups in England this autumn.
“Our sport’s history has been built on a commitment to tackling inequalities and we honour that through our focus on having a positive social impact well beyond the pitch.
“We look forward to working with the Duchess in the years to come, and I know all levels of our sport will welcome her to the Rugby League family.”
Bill Sweeney, the chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, said: “It is a great honour to welcome the Duchess of Cambridge as our Patron. Our aim is to enrich lives, introduce more people to rugby union, develop the sport for future generations and create a successful thriving game across the country.
“As rugby clubs have reopened across the country, players, officials, and volunteers are celebrating being back in the game together, and we know the support of the Duchess will be greatly valued from our grassroots clubs and fast-growing women and girls’ game, right up to our elite Men’s and Women’s England teams.”