England Women deserve Royal reception, says Mark Sampson

Thursday 09 Jul 2015
Karen Bardsley takes a selfie with her team-mates
Breakfast with the future King and lunch with the Prime Minister, followed by strawberries and cream on Centre Court.

This is how England have toasted their history-making run in the FIFA Women's World Cup.

After receiving a heroes' welcome at Heathrow Airport on Monday morning Mark Sampson's squad, who won bronze at Canada 2015, were invited to attend a day of celebratory activities in London.

England Women with Prince William at Kensington Palace

England Women with Prince William at Kensington Palace

Chief among them was tea and toast with FA President HRH The Duke of Cambridge at Kensington Palace.

It was the Lionesses' third meeting with Prince William inside two months, following his visit to St. George's Park in May and his phone call to the squad ahead of their heartbreaking World Cup semi-final defeat by Japan.

Sampson said: “We’ve had some fantastic support from the Prince during the tournament and it’s excellent to round the journey off with a visit to the Palace.

“It was nice and we spoke to the Prince when he first visited us at St. George’s Park for a training camp prior to the tournament.

HRH Prince WIlliam shares a joke with Karen Carney, Ellen White and Steph Houghton

HRH Prince WIlliam shares a joke with Karen Carney, Ellen White and Steph Houghton

“That was the moment we realised that we were in a World Cup and it was a really big occasion.

“So it’s nice to finish the occasion off and come back to hear the Prince’s views on the team because he clearly watched the games and was interested in the team.

“He contacted us twice when we were out in Canada and I know he did everything he could to come out to the semi-final.

“So the support the team have got, not just from the Prince but from the English public as a whole has been amazing."

After breakfast, the squad then met girls from Essendine School, Maida Vale, and Jubilee School, Bexley. 

The school children have been receiving FA Skills coaching and they were given an opportunity to showcase their talent in front of the England stars. 

Pupils from Essendine and Jubilee School meet some of the England players

England Women spend time with schoolchildren at Kensington Palace

Alex Scott, Jade Moore, Lucy Bronze and Katie Chapman even joined in a small-sided game.

The squad then took the England bus to No10 where they were congratulated for their record run by Prime Minister David Cameron and Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch.

The special day was topped off with a trip to Wimbledon to watch the afternoon's action on Centre Court.

England Women with David Cameron at No10 Downing Street

England Women with David Cameron at No10 Downing Street

Sampson added: “They deserve it, they really do. They’ve worked so hard over the last 18 months and look at them today.

"They’re playing with the youngsters just three days off the back of a horrible flight and a really intensive tournament and they’re out here with smiles on their faces, sliding and running around.

“The players have been back in their cities, villages and towns and have felt that support again and realised how much they’ve connected with people.

“They’re really great ambassadors for the game and they deserve the recognition."


By Glenn Lavery At Downing Street