Prince William guests as Buckingham Palace hosts football match
Last Updated: October 8, 2013 9:34am
The home of the Queen staged its first football game in its 308-year history as part of the Football Association's 150th anniversary celebrations on Monday.
Buckingham Palace has hosted music concerts and boxing matches, but never football as London teams Civil Service FC and Polytechnic FC faced each other on a pitch prepared by a team headed by Tony Stones, chief groundsman at Wembley Stadium.
Although the Queen was not present, her grandson William, president of the FA and second in line to the British throne, was fully involved and even wore a set of orange football boots given to him by Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney.
William said he was excited to see 'football on my grandmother's lawn', adding: "One warning, though: if anyone breaks a window, you can answer to her!"
Civil Service are the sole surviving football club from the 11 teams who founded the FA in a public house in central London in 1863 and later drafted the game's 13 original laws. Polytechnic were formed in 1875.
William said: "This magnificent home, Buckingham Palace, is at the heart of the nation, and so there cannot be a more fitting setting to celebrate our national game, and to celebrate all of you."
Guests in the 39-acre gardens included FA chairman Greg Dyke and former England striker Michael Owen.
"Michael's available as a super sub," William added.
The Civil Service team, who lost the match 2-1, presented William, an Aston Villa fan, with two miniature football shirts for his new son, Prince George - one red and one white, both with 'HRH 1' on the back.
William also handed out medals to 150 grassroots football volunteers and praised the sport's role in British society.
"At its best, football is a powerful force for good in society. It binds people from different backgrounds, communities, faiths and abilities and gives them a common interest, a unifying identity," he said.
Paying tribute to the volunteers present during a pre-match reception in the palace ballroom, he added: "You change lives, you give people meaning, enjoyment, perspective, a release, an outlet; you bring people together and inject fun, laughter, passion, goals and challenges into others' lives.
"It is people like you who make our country what it is. I sincerely hope that you are immensely proud of your efforts and achievements."