Prince William makes waves in international water polo debut

April 21, 2004

Prince William (R) makes his water polo debut for the Scottish national universities squad
Photo - AFP
CARDIFF — University-level water polo tournaments are generally fairly low-key affairs – but not when the eventual heir to the British throne is making his international debut.

To loud – and largely female – screams, Prince William, 21, took to the water for the Scottish national universities side in the annual Celtic Nations sports event in Cardiff, the capital of Wales.

The 1.90 metre (6 foot 3 inch) royal pin-up, resplendent in black and grey swimming trunks and blue cap, tried his best on being called to the pool as a second-quarter substitute but was unable to stop his side losing 14-7 to the Irish side.

William, captain of the water polo side at St Andrew's University in Scotland, was not among the scorers but did win a particularly big cheer for helping prevent an Ireland goal.

His side also lost to Wales in their second and final match, the home team triumphing 15-6.

The tournament marked a rare occasion for members of the public – and the British press – to witness the prince in anything other than a strictly controlled formal setting.

The son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, William is a hugely popular figure in Britain, where his apparently shy manner coupled with youthful good looks has won him a sizeable fanbase of female admirers.

On arriving at the Welsh Institute of Sport for the tournament, William had first been forced to make his way through a crowd of young leotard-clad female gymnasts, who had just completed their event.

Royal officials have tried hard to shield William from public attention during his boyhood and his time at university, and their attempts have been largely respected by Britain's usually voracious tabloid press. Fellow players at the event praised the prince's skills, with Welsh captain Oliver Newcombe saying William "gave as good as he got" in the water.

"He played pretty well I think. The standard this year was very hard," he added.

Spectators also pronounced themselves delighted at their glimpse of the second in line to the throne, although one expressed mild concern at William's look when he arrived of faded jeans and scruffy trainers.

"I think he could do with a new pair of shoes or jeans or something," said 75-year-old Jo Morgan. – AFP



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