Downing Street's deft diplomacy for England v Wales World Cup clash

Rishi Sunak hosts party with schoolchildren from both countries, while Welsh Labour and Tory MPs unite for 90 minutes

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With hostilities brewing between England and Wales football fans, British prime minister Rishi Sunak has taken the diplomatic option of watching Tuesday’s game with children from both countries.

Mr Sunak has invited pupils from schools in bothEngland and Wales to watch the evening game in Downing Street.

His ability in being gracious in defeat and magnanimous in victory will be tested as it is likely to prove a lively affair in No 10 — as it will in venues across both countries.

The key final game of Group B has caused a degree of difficulty for Britain’s heir to the throne after Prince William let it be known that he would be supporting England.

The royal, who inherited the title Prince of Wales on Queen Elizabeth II’s death, took criticism from the Welsh actor Michael Sheen for his support after William, in his role as President of the Football Association, visited England players before their departure for Qatar.

“He can, of course, support whoever he likes and as pres of FA his role makes [the] visit understandable — but surely he sees holding the title Prince of Wales at same time is entirely inappropriate? Not a shred of embarrassment? Or sensitivity to the problem here?” Sheen tweeted.

Prince William has since said he will now be backing both teams.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak looks on, during the switching on the Christmas tree lights ceremony. On Tuesday he will host a viewing of the England v Wales football match in Downing Street. Reuters

Parliament’s traditional tribal politics are likely to be put aside for one moment at 7pm GMT, with Conservative Welsh MPs teaming up with Labour MPs from the principality to watch the game.

One Welsh Tory MP refused to comment on speculation he would watch the game with colleagues on the giant screen erected in the Attlee Room in Parliament.

But Robert Buckland, the former secretary of state for Wales, told The National that he would be viewing the game “with Welsh friends” but with England the favourites he admitted it could be an “agonising” 90 minutes.

Happily, in cricket there is no such conflict as the two countries play as one under the banner of the England and Wales Cricket Board, with Welsh test notables Simon Jones, Robert Croft and Tony Lewis all wearing the England jersey.

Updated: November 29, 2022, 10:41 AM
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