Celebrating Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: A Life & Relationship with Football
Football stood still at the weekend as the nation mourned. The loss of Queen Elizabeth is one that transcends generations. For the vast majority of people we have known no other monarch, a life lived alongside the Queen, through celebration, heartbreak, recession, affluence and so much more. Including football.
While we continue to mourn the loss of Queen Elizabeth II, football returns, and even when it comes to the beautiful game there are incredibly strong links between the two.
While we may most associate Her Majesty with horse racing, The Queen has a rich history with football. In fact, think of the most iconic moment in English football history and she is there, front and centre, handing Bobby Moore the Jules Rimet trophy, just 13 years after her coronation.
And while unfortunately, Queen Elizabeth II was never able to celebrate in such a way again for the men’s team, it’s perhaps rather fitting that one of the country’s most influential and inspirational women of the last 100 years was able to toast a new generation of idols for young girls to look up to in the Lionesses.
Winning the European Championships on home soil in 2022, just months before her passing, The Queen released a touching statement following the historic win that brought football home:
“My warmest congratulations, and those of my family, go to you all on winning the European Women’s Football Championships,” she wrote.
“It is a significant achievement for the entire team, including your support staff. The Championships and your performance in them have rightly won praise.
“However, your success goes far beyond the trophy you have so deservedly earned. You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.
“It is my hope that you will be as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are of the result today.”
And it was that kind of message that followed her throughout her relationship with both football and sport as a whole.
She kept her loyalties when it came to following a team close to her chest, although rumours of West Ham often followed her around, and she would look as delighted handing the trophy to Liverpool captains as she did Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United or Southampton back in 1976, the last FA Cup trophy she would hand over as the winning side climbed those famous steps up to the Royal Box.
For many of those professionals, it was the highlight of their careers being handed the trophy and receiving a medal from Her Majesty, and to this day players still pride themselves on receiving a winner’s medal from a member of the Royal Family.
Which is why football’s condolences continue to go out to the family and close associates of The Queen. She leaves behind a great legacy, not just for the country, but in popular culture and in particular football.
The Queen’s Most Memorable Moments in Football
Throughout Britain’s rich history in the game, The Queen has seen some truly iconic moments, as well as some large changes, from the days of the Busby Babes to the Premier League era which has seen football in the country completely flipped on its head.
We look back on some of her most memorable moments in football…
World Cup 1966
There is no greater moment in English football than the World Cup win of 1966. There were high hopes for Sir Alf Ramsey’s men going into the tournament, and despite a tricky start, the likes of Bobby Moore, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Geoff Hurst stepped up to the plate and brought the trophy home for the first, and still only time in the competition.
The Queen was on hand to present the trophy to the captain in what even today is still among the most iconic photographs in sport.
England would have to wait 30 years before hosting another major football tournament and that came in 1996, the year football was meant to come home.
The Queen played a large part throughout the tournament, having a role in both the Opening Ceremony and the Final, in which she handed the trophy over to the German national team, who had cruelly dumped the Three Lions out on penalties the round previous.
1976 FA Cup Final
The 1976 FA Cup Final wasn’t particularly a memorable one on the pitch, albeit underdogs Southampton managed to stun Manchester United with a 1-0 win at Wembley, but it was the last FA Cup Final in which Her Majesty handed the trophy over to the winning captain.
Peter Rodrigues was the last captain ever to receive the prestigious title from The Queen and, following her passing, recalled just how special the moment was:
“They are memories that will live with me forever, from introducing Prince Philip to my team before the game — I remember him sharing a joke with our manager Lawrie McMenemy — to the end.
‘With us leading, I spent the last five minutes gazing up at the Queen and the cup that was next to her, thinking “I want to collect that from you, Ma’am”. And it happened, one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Of course, that will now live on through King Charles III and the immediate Royal Family, with the FA Cup long to continue its close relationship and longstanding tradition with the monarchy.
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