Harry is rugby league’s new royal patron

Prince Harry at Cast North West

Prince Harry at Cast North West

Her Majesty The Queen is to step down as royal patron of the Rugby Football League.

And she will pass on the honour to her grandson Prince Harry who is a big fan of the sport.

The Queen is relinquishing patronage of more than 20 national organisations in total at the end of the year, Buckingham Palace has said.

The monarch, who celebrated her 90th birthday in April, is following the example of the Duke of Edinburgh who broke formal ties with some of his patronages when he turned 90 in 2011.

The move is likely to be seen as a common-sense decision which acknowledges the Queen’s advancing years but Buckingham Palace stressed the monarch is still patron of more than 600 organisations.

The patronages will be taken on by members of the Royal Family and organisations involved include Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Barnardo’s and the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Association.

Diplomatically welcome for RL fans is that she is also handing on patronage of the English and Welsh Rugby Unions too!

Buckingham Palace said: “At the end of the Queen’s 90th birthday year, Her Majesty will step down as patron from a number of national organisations. The patronages will be passed on to other members of the Royal Family in the coming months.

“Her Majesty is currently patron of more than 600 organisations and has enjoyed a close and active association with a great number of them throughout her reign. Her Majesty will continue to serve as patron to hundreds of charities and institutions but will now share this work with her family. Many of the organisations listed below already have other members of the Royal Family as vice-patrons or presidents, which will ensure a smooth transition.”

RFL chairman Brian Barwick, said: “The RFL has been honoured to have had Her Majesty The Queen as its patron and on behalf of the organisation I would like to thank Her Majesty for the support she has given this sport.

“I would also like to welcome Prince Harry as the new patron of the organisation. We are aware that he is a big fan of sport and we are delighted to announce that he is to become the new patron for the Rugby Football League.”

Both royals have been relatively recent visitors to the RL heartland of Wigan.

The Queen was last here in 2009 to visit Heinz at Kitt Green and to open Leigh Sports Village while Harry was a VIP visitor to Wigan Youth Zone and other venues earlier this year.