The British Royal family has called Buckingham Palace home since 1837, but soccer, the country’s most popular sport, has never been played on its historic grounds.
That changed on Monday, when Buckingham Palace hosted its first-ever competitive soccer game. Prince William organized a game between two of England’s oldest clubs — Civil Service FC and Polytechnic FC — as part of the FA’s (English soccer’s governing body) ongoing 150th anniversary celebrations, according to the Telegraph.
“Over its 150 years, football has remained a wonderful example of the power of community and of our ability to come together to organize and to enjoy a simple pastime,” Prince William said.
“I cannot tell you how excited I am that later today we will be playing football on my grandmother’s lawn.
“One warning, though: if anyone breaks a window, you can answer to her.”
Civil Service, the oldest soccer club in the world, is the only surviving club of the 11 teams which formed the Football Association on Oct. 26, 1863. Queen Elizabeth II gave the club permission to play its Southern Amateur League game against its oldest rival at Buckingham Palace instead of at its home stadium at Riverside Drive in West London.
Wembley Stadium groundsman Tony Stones and Palace gardeners created the 110 yards x 65 yards field on the Palace’s 39-acre garden.
Howard Webb, who officiates Premier League, Champions League and international games, served as the referee, while former Liverpool and England striker Michael Owen was among the 200 spectators who were allowed to attend the game on an invite-only basis.
Polytechnic won 2-1.
Prince William, the president of the FA, then awarded 150 medals to “grassroots heroes” of English soccer at an event following the game.
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Photo via Twitter/@insidewldftball