Prince Harry has watched the England rugby squad being put through their paces as he carried out his first official engagement as patron of the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
At Twickenham Stadium, Harry joined 12,000 fans from clubs across the country watching an open training session by England head coach Eddie Jones’ players.
But Harry, a passionate rugby fan who has travelled the world supporting the national side, began his visit to the home of English rugby by talking about football.
It slipped into the conversation when the Prince met young people taking part in the Coach Core project, created by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
It helps train 16 to 24-year-olds, many from disadvantaged social backgrounds, to become qualified coaches and inspire their peers.
When Harry asked Jack Gair which football team he supported, the 19-year-old replied Manchester United but Harry tried to change the subject when he admitted his team was Arsenal.
The side was thrashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich in a Champions League match on Wednesday and the Prince said: “I know, let’s not talk about it.”
A few days before Christmas, Harry was named as the new patron of the RFU succeeding his grandmother the Queen, who at the time relinquished her official association with 25 organisations.
Harry is a keen fan of rugby and was in Sydney in 2003 to watch England triumph over Australia in the Rugby World Cup final.
Harry stood on the touchline as the England squad, still buoyed by their last-gasp Six Nations victory against Wales last Saturday, trained in winter sunshine.
Head coach Jones was all smiles and shared a joke with the Prince when he went to greet the new RFU patron.
England captain Dylan Hartley also walked over to have a chat with Harry towards the end of the session, as did team-mates Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes and Jack Clifford.
Earlier, in the company of Rugby World Cup winner and England team manager Richard Hill, the Prince watched as the players strained against a scrum machine loaded with hundreds of kilograms of weights.
It was the second time this week that Harry had seen the squad training – on Thursday he was able to stroll from his home in the grounds of Kensington Palace to nearby Hyde Park where the team had a session.
The England team manager joked: “He doesn’t seem to be showing much interest in going into the scrum. He did pop along to one of our Hyde Park sessions yesterday – he didn’t seem keen on being lifted either – he came in just socially, to watch.”
Speaking about the RFU’s new patron, he added: “Harry’s brilliant, clearly he’s the patron of our Union which is a massive honour for us, he’s very passionate about rugby, the players will have met him and his involvement in English rugby has been there for decades now.”
Harry’s visit gave him the chance to learn more about some of the RFU’s youth projects like its National Youth Council and Young Rugby Ambassadors programmes.