Among some of the most touching moments of the Women’s England football team making history last night with the country’s first major tournament win since 1966 was when Prince William, fresh from celebrating the extra time goal in the stands, took to the pitch to present the team with their medals and gave each of them a hug.
The fact that the future King is a football fan is hardly a secret – he’s head of the Football Association in this country and rarely misses a match (and let’s not forget the adorable video message he and his daughter Charlotte sent the Lionesses ahead of the final) – but his reaction to the win and the genuine affection he showed the women had many on Twitter moved to tears.
‘Prince William was fantastic with every single player,’ wrote one. ‘He hugged them, held their hands. He's a class act and a true football fan.’
Another said, ‘Prince William hugging the players.....making me cry my eyes out! 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 the true meaning of the word CHAMPIONS 🦁.’
Others were surprised that he’d seemingly broken royal protocol, with searches for ‘Are the royal family allowed to hug’ on the up.
The short answer is: yes, they are, and younger members of The Firm are often photographed embracing members of the public. The Queen has always maintained a traditional approach to meeting people, famously always wearing gloves to shake the hands of the crowds – but Princes William and Harry, who’ve dedicated much of their roles to mental health campaigning are far more tactile, following in the footsteps of their mum Diana; the Duchess of Cambridge is prone to falling in love with school children on her visits to schools up and down the country, with William often joking the visits make her ‘broody’; even Prince Charles has been known to bestow the occasional hug.
The official Royal website states ‘There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms.
‘For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way.’
Speaking to E! news back in 2018 ahead of the Sussex wedding (before Megan Markle had been relentlessly demonised by the tabloid press, ofc) former Royal Butler Grant Harrold said, ‘[Hugging is] something younger people do. [Meghan’s] got her own way of doing things... You look at the energy of Princess Diana and she was very much somebody that would hug people. She was famous for it, wasn't she?
'None of the rest of the royal family hugged. It just wasn't the done thing. Now the younger royals, Princes William and Harry, you see them hugging... So it's their way of doing it. They are very much copying what their mother did, which is fantastic.'