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Charlotte keeping Duke up at night

Published 20/05/2015

The Duke of Cambridge is meeting the Women's World Cup squad at their training ground
The Duke of Cambridge is meeting the Women's World Cup squad at their training ground

Princess Charlotte has been giving the Duke of Cambridge "a few sleepless nights", he has told England women's World Cup squad.

William has been meeting the team at the National Football Centre today, before they jet off on Monday to start their campaign in Canada.

He was also presented with a miniature replica of the side's kit for the princess, bearing her name and the number "1" on the back.

Steph Houghton, who captains the side, said the Duke had been telling them about domestic life with new arrival Charlotte, and older sibling Prince George.

"He said George is very lively, and Princess Charlotte has been keeping him up all night, giving him a few sleepless nights," said the 27-year-old.

"But he said he was just happy to have them both here."

William, who is president of the Football Association, met the Lionesses' head coach, Mark Sampson, and the senior women's squad at St George's Park in Staffordshire.

In a lighter moment, Aston Villa fan William quipped to players he might be left having "a bad day" after the FA Cup final is played on May 30, with Villa playing Arsenal for the trophy.

As FA president he will be responsible for handing the cup to the winning side's captain, at Wembley.

He said: "It's either going to be a very good day for me, or a very bad day."

The Duke then posed for an informal photo with the women's squad in their dressing room.

Asked if anyone should say "cheese", he replied "No. I think Number One would be more appropriate"

As he entered the changing rooms, there was a boisterous atmosphere with the women staging an impromptu Mexican wave as they waited for William to work his way along the line of coaching staff and players.

He seemed at ease chatting with the players, and high-fived defender Laura Bassett when she told him she was also a Villa fan.

It then fell to coach Mr Sampson to give his players a rousing speech praising them as "an inspiration" to their generation of women and those yet to come.

Thanking William for his support, the coach whose side are sixth in the Fifa world rankings and made a clean sweep of their qualifiers, added: "It's a big moment for us.

"It speaks volumes about where the women's game is - the support we are getting."

William replied: "The World Cup is a great platform to raise yourselves to the next level.

"It will all be televised, so we can see how you're doing back home," he said, adding he would "come back" to see the squad after their return.

Arriving earlier at the venue William first opened alongside the Duchess of Cambridge in 2012, he was greeted by the park's managing director Julie Harrington and chairman David Sheepshanks.

He then signed his autograph on a wall of footballing greats near the entrance, which includes World Cup 1966 winner's Sir Geoff Hurst and David Beckham, confessing his moniker seemed "minute" by comparison.

Later, he met players from Derby taking part in a Homeless FA course run under the umbrella of charity Centrepoint, of which the Duke is patron.

Asked if he would join in their kick-about, William - wearing a blue suit and red and navy tie - made his apologies, saying "I'll bring some more suitable attire next time."

The Duke then asked if they were all Derby County supporters but there were just a couple of dissenters, including one Chelsea fan.

On hearing the news, the Duke joked: "Oh, we don't like him now then."

However another player then quipped: "It could be worse - he could be a (Nottingham) Forest supporter."

Asking if any of their number would be watching the women's World Cup, he then praised the women's goal-scoring skills and said "they could teach the boys how to play - that's exactly what'll happen".

William, the FA's president since 2006, then left to watch the women's senior team in training before posing for an official photograph with them.

Ms Houghton said the Duke's visit was a boost and "makes us feel the whole country is behind us, and we really appreciate that".

Team-mate Jill Scott said it was the third time she had met the heir to throne and he remembered she had fouled him on the first occasion back in Newcastle, eight years ago.

"He's a normal guy and just wants to have normal conversations," she said.

The 28-year-old centre midfielder added: "He said he's had a few sleepless nights, with Charlotte, which also reflects he does have a normal life away from his duties as prince."

Mr Sampson said the Duke was a genuine champion of the women's game whose support was helping raise its profile.

"It's still a developing game and we want to kick it on to the next level," he added.

Talking of his side's chances in the World Cup, he said: "We know on our day we can beat anyone."

England women fly out to Canada next week, ahead of a pre-tournament friendly against the host nation and group matches against France, Mexico and Colombia.

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