It was the Sir Alex of the United Kingdom. Sovereign in the land of the Beautiful Game, where football is synonymous with national identity, Elizabeth II in the 70 years of her reign will have well understood the importance of the round ball for her subjects.
By Sara Menai, in London
Crowned heads, in England, are not the ones missing. Yes, because a monarchy allows it. Also because the shortcut lies entirely when it comes to qualifying the dominants, whatever the chosen field. In football, Manchester City, the last king of England, who succeeded Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United some time ago, depending on the results of the national league, have held this media title for a while. But if the sovereign lexicon is so easily used across the Channel, it is mainly because a small piece of woman has performed the supreme function for 70 years to such a degree that no one has seen any blasphemy in borrowing her attributes. Impossible to hide, at a time when her subjects are about to greet him: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of the Windsor household, known as “Queen Elizabeth II” , for 70 years, he carried the English crown at a safe distance. The world has changed a lot since 1952 but under his hat and his colorful tunics it was also a foundation on which the whole of British society was able to grow, suffer and rebuild itself.
Closer to the champions
The round ball did not escape this. If its working-class imprint is omnipresent, the Beautiful game it was gradually appropriated by the royalty, well aware that in England it is a real source of pride for its subjects. Since 1939, the FA has had an honorary president drawn from the royal family. During her reign, Babeth’s duties therefore led her to participate in numerous meetings from the stands and in particular to present the FA Cup trophy, before passing the baton in 2005 to her nephew, William. Another royal privilege, the ennobling of her subjects. Every year a certain number of people who have distinguished themselves for their talent are awarded. Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Kenny Dalglish or Sir Matt Busby have been named knights, proof that football is part of the DNA of this island. They will not be the only ones, another primacy given by the sovereign, less prestigious, but no less important. Brian Clough, Gary Lineker, Bill Shankly, Frank Lampard or even Arsène Wenger, and of course David Beckham in 2003 after receiving the Order of the British Empire medal for “services rendered to football” from the sovereign’s hands. He is starting to make a nice selection. Becks was also present at the two recent ones, very attached to the royal family royal weddings and dreams of being ennobled one day, but what his fiscal setbacks revealed by Wikileaks a few years ago prevent …
But the role of the monarchy in football is not limited to distributing the positive points. She also poses as a prime supporter of Three lions, even if it means being as often disappointed as its 67 million subjects. Last summer, Elizabeth II hoped that football he would go home. Rarely, on the eve of the Wembley European final between England and Italy, he even spoke. It was Buckingham Palace that published a message of encouragement from the queen herself: “Fifty-five years ago I had the chance to present the World Cup to Bobby Moore and saw what it meant for the players, management and staff to win the final of a major international football tournament. I send you all my congratulations and those of my family for reaching the final of the European Championships and I send you my best wishes. ”
His ancestors had banned football
Far from the Buckingham gilding, English football was born first from the peasant tradition and then from the working class, light years away from the practices of the nobility, preferring polo, cricket or rowing. It was first Edward II, then Edward III, king of England in the fourteenthAnd century, which prohibit by royal decree what most resembled today’s football. At first only on the streets of London: “As long as there is this hustle and bustle in the city because of these big balls that could give rise to many evils, we order a prison sentence for anyone who indulges in such a game in the future. God save us. ” Vade retro satanas! While the Black Death decimated nearly a quarter of the English population and in the midst of the Hundred Years War, Edward III had a very weak view of the sport that entertained his subjects instead of luring them to an exercise he deemed essential to stinging the Kingdom. of France: archery. Every subject must be able to defend the homeland rather than wade, drunk, in the mud. Among other distractions of the time, such as cockfighting, Edward III then banned football on June 12, 1349. Almost a century later, his heir Edward IV (1461-1470) followed the line of royal prohibition by declaring: “It is forbidden to play football, because every skilled and strong person must favor archery. The defense of the Kingdom depends on its archers. ” In total, through the various rulers England has known since medieval times, more than 30 royal laws or decrees have attempted to ban football, and it is only much later, during the Victorian era in the late 19th century.Andthat the game, pre-industrial and now framed by rules, will tend to become more professional.
Forever blowing bubbles?
If some members of the royal family are happy to share the name of the team they support, such as Prince William with Aston Villa, the Queen, obligated reserve duty, had to remain neutral. It is for this reason that she has never publicly revealed the name of the team she secretly supported. For a long time it was believed that the heart of the ruler was inclined towards the Gunners. Not because of Petit’s ponytail or Titi Henry’s punishments, but because the club was created by the workers of the Royal Arsenal arms factory, a name that the club carried until 1891. October 2006, the brand new Emirati will be inaugurated. Due to a herniated disc, Queen he had had to send his royal spouse, and to be pardoned, the sovereign had invited the Gunners in February 2007 to share tea and scones with her in Buckingham parlors. Just that.
It is also the only team in the kingdom to have received this honor. A very young Cesc Fàbregas, at the time 19 years old, had revealed after this visit that the queen had slipped from him to be a fan of the London club. Later, on a tour of New Zealand, Prince Harry revealed it to him “most of the royal family supported Arsenal” . It was enough for our British friends to be convinced that Zaza is a Gooner. However, a few years ago, it was another version that the British tabloids delivered … During a conversation with Buckingham staff, the Queen would reveal her penchant for … West Ham! The story dates back to 2009. Surprising a football conversation in the halls of the palace, Elizabeth II would have expressed her love for her Hammers. It’s hard to imagine the 95-year-old sovereign with a pint in her hand, a Michail Antonio shirt on her shoulders, on a Saturday afternoon in front of a good Brentford-West Ham yet, this would make her have something in common with Barack Obama, MC Hammer and Matt Damon. The fact remains that only the national team will be able, following his death, to offer him a tribute worthy of the name. It is a pity if the hymn will then become God save the king.
By Sara Menai, in London