Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge
Prince William, Kate Middleton Release Family Video For Wedding Anniversary Photo by Alastair Grant/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

When Kate Middleton will reportedly take over as the new patron of Rugby Football Union (RFU), she will become the first member of the Royal Family to take on one of Prince Harry’s patronages.

Sources told Daily Mail that the 40-year-old is due to be announced as the patron of the English rugby "imminently." Her new role sets her up in direct competition with her husband Prince William, who became patron of the Welsh Rugby Union in 2016. This comes right before England’s Six Nations campaign, which begins next week.

Harry had taken over the patronage from Queen Elizabeth in 2016. Prior to that, he was vice patron from 2010. He was seen as a committed ambassador for the England side, and even went on an alleged 25-hour drinking session with the team in Paris in 2007 after they didn't win the World Cup.

After Harry and his wife Meghan Markle confirmed to the Queen that they would not be returning as working royals, he was forced to step down from the role of Rugby Football Union patron last year. Harry and Meghan left behind the royal life in 2020, and moved to California. Since their move, he has been critical of the way he used to live in the UK in interviews with American media, according to Mirror. His decision to leave the UK has seen him being stripped of his patronages.

The Queen reportedly had no choice but to ask the couple to relinquish their association with the charities and organizations she had given them due to their decision to take up commercial careers. The Buckingham palace’s statement, released last February, said that their "honorary military appointments and royal patronages" will be "returned to Her Majesty before being redistributed."

Prior to the new move involving Kate, no member of the Royal Family had been handed one of the Sussexes’ patronages. Some feel that the Queen did not want to risk antagonizing her grandson, who has been taking pot-shots at his family since leaving the royal life. One source said that people just "tread a bit carefully when it comes to them." But with the Six Nations Championship coming up soon, there was a need to get a figurehead.

The Duchess of Cambridge is about to step into Harry’s shoes and will reportedly be "front and center" at the upcoming games. Kate is also a royal patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and is a frequent visitor to the Wimbledon Championships. She is also a huge rugby fan.

Meanwhile, there is no information on whether Kate will also take on Harry’s former role as patron of the Rugby Football League. But it is expected that the Queen might start redistributing more of the couple’s patronages. For Harry these include the London Marathon Charitable Trust and the presidency of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. Meghan also had to hand over patronages with the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Royal National Theatre and her vice presidency of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Kate Middleton
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leave Buckingham Palace in a carriage during Trooping The Colour, the Queen's annual birthday parade, on June 8, 2019 in London, England. Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images

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