- The Duke of Cambridge appeared to be heavily booed before the FA Cup final
- He met both sets of players before the match, with the boos making a backdrop
- It is unclear which fans booed, though observers said it was mostly Liverpool’s
Liverpool fans sparked widespread outrage yesterday for booing Prince William and the National Anthem at the FA Cup Final.
Jeers rang out around Wembley Stadium as the Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the Football Association, was introduced to Chelsea and Liverpool players before kick-off.
Fans gesticulated and made obscene hand gestures while the solemn Prince stood singing God Save the Queen. The outburst by thousands of fans was announced last night across the political spectrum.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: ‘I utterly condemn any fans who booed Prince William at Wembley today.
‘The FA Cup final should be an occasion when we come together as a country. It should not be ruined by a minority of fans’ totally shameful behaviour. In this year of all years – the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – this is dreadful.’
Tory MP and former Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: ‘It is utterly unacceptable and disgraceful that fans booed Prince William. I would urge the FA to take all necessary action and pursue those responsible.’
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats said: ‘We have the most wonderful Monarch and those fans who booed do not represent their clubs or our country.’
The jeers started during a rendition of the Christian hymn Abide With Me by the 60-strong B Positive Choir, whose members have sickle cell disease or who have close friends or family suffering from it.
It erupted again as Prince William was introduced to the crowd and began shaking the hands of the players. The booing and jeers reached their peak during the National Anthem.
Connor O’Neill, football writer for the Liverpool Echo, said Liverpool fans ‘are well known’ for booing God Save The Queen at Wembley and claimed that the reasons date from the city’s antipathy towards Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government in the 1980s.
He said: ‘The Conservative Government’s ‘managed decline’ of the city was then followed by the failings of the Government following the Hillsborough disaster, which further entrenched those feelings.’
There were also reports of supporters booing the National Anthem earlier this year, when Liverpool played Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final, also held at Wembley.
Former BBC Royal Correspondent Michael Cole described the booing as ‘disgraceful and deplorable’ and called for the Football Association to take action.
He also criticized BBC football commentators for failing to even mention the Liverpool fans’ ‘repulsive behaviour’.
Speaking last night to The Mail on Sunday, the broadcaster – who had more than 25 years’ experience with the BBC – said: ‘There is no excuse for that sort of behaviour. I’ve been a football fan for 67 years, and I’ve never heard such a thing.
‘We don’t want sycophancy in this country, but we want respect. And respect is due to the head of state.
Prince William, who is the president of the FA, met with both sets of players ahead of kick-off
‘Respect is due to the Queen, particularly at 96 when the whole world has been celebrating the fact that, after not being able to attend the State Opening of Parliament, she was at least able to go to the Royal Windsor Horse Show yesterday. So it’s bad manners.’
Sally Bedell Smith, who has written a bestselling biography of the Queen, criticized the booing as ‘really inappropriate’ and said that William would have found the outburst ‘very dismaying’.
She added: ‘George V and Queen Mary used to go to Wembley for the FA Cup Final so the tradition goes all the way back.
‘Prince William is the head of the FA and only wants to do well by the sport. It’s really unsportsmanlike of them. They may have their own agenda but I think they can probably put it in their pocket, particularly in this Jubilee year.
Left-wing trade unionist Howard Beckett, who last year stood to become general secretary of the Unite union before pulling out, praised Liverpool fans for ‘rejecting blind patriotism and the establishment’, adding the outburst was ‘pure quality from socialist fans’.
But he was condemned for his comments on Twitter. Paul Embery, a firefighter and fellow trade union activist, said: ‘This guy came within a whisker of leading Britain’s second largest trade union. Thank God he failed.’
Liverpool’s German-born manager Jurgen Klopp has previously refused to be drawn into commenting about his club’s fans’ booing of the National Anthem.
He said in 2019: ‘I don’t think I’m the right person [to ask]I know a bit about the history but it’s not for me to judge.’
Following the match, which Liverpool won after a tense penalty shootout, Prince William gave out medals to the victorious team. No further booing was heard.
The controversy came a day after Prince William personally delivered a damehood to cancer-stricken campaigner Deborah James before sharing afternoon tea and champagne with her and her family.
Mrs James, a former deputy headteacher, 40, has now raised almost £6 million after setting up a Just Giving page.
Hours later the Duke enjoyed a rare meal out with friends at Oswald’s, a private members’ club in Mayfair, Central London.
Fans also took to Twitter to slam the booing.
One said: ‘Liverpool booing the National Anthem. Doing Merseyside no favours.’
Another said: ‘No allegiance to either but Liverpool can do one, their fans booing Prince William then our national anthem, what’s that about?’
A third said: ‘Liverpool fans once again booing the national anthem, disgusting fan base.’
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge during The FA Cup Final match between Chelsea and Liverpool
The booing of the anthem is thought to be a tradition for Liverpool supporters, one that dates back to the 1980s.
It is thought to be linked to opposition to the Conservative government of that era, as well as anger at the fallout of the Hillsborough tragedy.
Omid Scobie, a close friend of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, tweeted: ‘An unexpected moment at today’s #FACupFinal, where Liverpool fans booed Prince William and National Anthem. My understanding (correct me if I’m wrong, Twitter) is that it’s still felt there was an establishment cover-up over the Hillsborough disaster and getting justice for it.’
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has previously been asked about the booing of the anthem from his team’s fans.
He said in 2019: ‘I don’t think I’m the right person (to ask), I know a bit about the history but it’s not for me to judge.
‘I know the Liverpool supporters are respectful. If they give that sign the reason might be a bit in the past. But I’ve nothing else to say about that.’
Liverpool ignored the furore to go on and win the match on penalties.
The booing seemed to increase during a rendition of FA Cup theme Abide With Me and then again when God Save the Queen was sung
Prince William later gave out the medals after the match, with no more boos reported.
It is the latest bad press for the future king, after a blunderous tour of the Caribbean saw him and Kate hit by protests and public relations gaffes.
Prince William and Kate Middleton want to modernize the Royal Family after their chaotic Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas.
This would include getting rid of bows and curtsies along with their formal titles so they would be known as simply Kate and William.
The scrutiny of their tour came to a head when Prince William released an unprecedented end-of-tour statement addressing growing republican sentiment in the three countries – acknowledging it had ‘brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future’.
In the wake of the criticism over the ‘colonial-era’ optics of their tour, many have called for an end to similar overseas trips by members of the royal family.
Sunday Times Royal Editor Roya Nikkhah believes the tour ignited a rethink of how the royal family plans overseas visits in the future.
Speaking on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, she said: ‘I think it definitely will [spark a rethink] and to be honest I think that rethink had started before this tour got underway because I know that William thought long and hard about how to approach certain things.
‘There have obviously been a few missteps. We had that extraordinary statement from him on Saturday night setting out the fact that he takes that on the chin and he wants to sort of look at things differently.’
Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex faced similar issues on their royal tour of the Caribbean last month.
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