Prince William comes to poppy's rescue
It all started with an England-Spain soccer game that is scheduled for Saturday. This being the week of Remembrance Day, the English players had sought permission from FIFA, soccer’s governing body, to wear shirts embroidered with the traditional sign of respect -- a red poppy.
FIFA, in as dumb a decision as it has ever made, said no. The poppy, it said, breaks its ban on uniforms being adorned with political, personal, religious or commercial messages.
The response in Britain was predictable outrage, as it should have been. Prime Minister David Cameron shook his fist at FIFA in Parliament: "This seems outrageous. The idea that wearing a poppy to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom is a political act is absurd. Wearing a poppy is an act of huge respect and national pride."
FIFA allowed that a minute of silence before the game at London’s Wembley Stadium was appropriate. But no poppies. Final word. Its appearance would be “jeopardizing the neutrality of football,” it said.
Enter Prince William, who is president of England’s Football Association as well as being second in line for the British throne. He was reportedly “absolutely livid” with FIFA’s decision.
One source told the Mirror: “As a serving officer in the Armed Forces, who has lost friends and ancestors to conflict, William was particularly angered by the ban.”
In a letter to FIFA head Sepp Blatter, he made his feeling known.
“The duke has written to FIFA in his capacity as president of the FA to express his dismay at their decision," William's office said in a statement released Thursday. "The duke's strong view is that the poppy is a universal symbol of remembrance, which has no political, religious or commercial connotations.
"The duke has asked FIFA to apply an exception in this special circumstance."
Within hours, they did.
English player will be allowed to wear poppies embroidered on black armbands. And with the door open, Scottish players will also be wearing poppies when they play Cyprus on Friday.
St. James’s Palace said William was “happy at the victory for common sense.”
How much William influenced FIFA isn’t known, but it clearly struck a chord. He did the right thing. What more could you want from a prince?