20 Times the Royals Were Caught Playing Sports

Martha Sorren | Jun 4, 2020 Celebrities
20 Times the Royals Were Caught Playing Sports
Image: Splash News

Kate Middleton playing sports
Splash News

The royals all have one major thing in common: They love playing sports. Cricket. Polo. Field hockey. Rugby. Name it, and they've probably played it. One of the royal family members who plays sports almost constantly is Kate Middleton. She's tried just about every game out there, and there are a lot. As a bonus, Prince William, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and even Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles have also all tried their hands at various sporting activities.

By virtue of their travels, the royals have had chances to learn about and play games that many of us may not have ever known existed. On a recent trip to Ireland, William and Kate played hurling and Gaelic football, and in Australia, Meghan played handball. 

The royals' love of sport can be traced back to their childhood years. William and Harry grew up playing polo and rugby at school, and Kate Middleton was on her school field hockey team. They've, in turn, passed their athletic nature on to their children. Prince George is already a raging football (aka soccer) fan, and the Duchess of Cambridge plays tennis with Charlotte and George almost daily.

Prince Harry loves sports -- so much that he created an entire annual event dedicated to athletics. The Invictus Games gives injured veterans the chance to compete against each other in many different sports. 

We've rounded up 20 times that members of the royal family got their sweat on, but 20 barely brushes the surface. In addition to all of the below, William and Kate are also love sailing and rowing, and Meghan is big into yoga. 

Basically, if it gets the body moving, the royals approve.

  • Polo for Prince Charles

    Prince Charles playing polo
    Tom Stoddart Archive/Getty Images

    Polo is one of the oldest-known team sports in the world. It's played on horseback, and competitors have mallets that they use to hit balls into the other team's goal. The monarchs have played it for centuries, so it's no surprise that the Prince Charles picked up the sport. This photo of the king-to-be was taken at a polo match in 1989.

  • Like Father, Like Sons

    Prince Harry and Prince William playing polo
    Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

    Both Prince William and Prince Harry were taught to play polo, likely by their father. The two of them continue to compete in matches to this day, and it's always fun to see Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle cheering them on with the kids in tow. In the US, families may play pick-up games of football on the weekends, but the royals play polo.

  • Princess Diana Was Sporty

    Princess Diana playing tennis
    Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

    William and Harry didn't only get their sporty side from their polo-playing father. Princess Diana was an active person. She came of age in the '80s when aerobics were big, and she would often incorporate the high-energy workouts into her daily routine. She also played tennis, as pictured here at the 1988 opening of London's Women's International Tennis Association European Office.

  • Kate Middleton Played Field Hockey as a Teen

    Kate Middleton playing field hockey
    Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images

    William shares his love of sports with his wife, Kate Middleton, who has played pretty much every outdoor or indoor game around. As a student at St Andrew's School, Kate played field hockey, so when she visited her alma matter in 2012, she couldn't resist hitting a shot or two -- and she played in a dress and heels, no less! 

    The duchess is so cool.

  • Prince William Is a Tennis Fan

    Prince William playing tennis
    Ian Gavan WPA Pool/Getty Images

    Prince William can be seen at Wimbledon every summer to watch the pros play tennis, but he fancies himself a bit of a player as well. He picked up a racket at this 2014 event to the Coventry War Memorial Park to mark the anniversary of World War I. What does tennis have to do with war? Not much, but we enjoyed the photo opp nonetheless.

  • Meghan Tried Her Hand at Handball

    Meghan Markle plays handball in Australia
    Dominic Lipinski - Pool/Getty Images

    While in Melbourne, Australia, in 2018, the duchess tried her hand at the Australian sport of handball. It's a bit like American football, where players pass a ball around with their hands (hence the name) and try to throw it in the other team's goal to score points. Meghan tried the sport out during an event to support women in athletics. 

  • Zara Phillips Is an Olympian

    Zara Phillips riding a horse in the olympics
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    The rest of the royal family treat sports like a hobby, but Princess Anne's daughter, Zara Phillips Tindall, is a bona fide Olympian. She's a champion horseback rider who helped the British equestrian team win a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics. Zara's mother got to hand her the award, which made it a really special moment for the both of them.

  • Princess Diana at the 'Mothers' Race'

    Princess Diana racing
    Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

    Diana was a good sport if ever there was one, volunteering to run in the "Mothers' Race" during sports day at her children's school in 1991. Not all moms would do that -- especially knowing they'd be photographed and put in every paper -- but Diana didn't care. She just wanted to have fun at an event for her kids and their parents.

  • Fancy Footwork

    Prince William playing soccer
    Chris Jackson/Getty Images

    Football -- or soccer as we call it in the US -- is a national pastime in the UK, and William is a big fan of the sport. He's even passed his love of football on to his son, George, who has been seen cheering for his team from the stands at games over the years. In 2018, William tried his hand (or should we say, his foot) at the sport while at a youth program in Israel. He looks like he knows what he's doing.

  • Camilla Has Given Sports a Shot

    Duchess Camilla lawn bowling
    Chris Jackson/Getty Images

    Camilla Parker Bowles is less athletically inclined (at least in public) than some of her royal family members, but she tried some lawn bowling on a trip to Trinidad and Tobago in 2008. Lawn bowling is similar to regular bowling, but instead of trying to knock pins down, players are trying to land their ball closest to a set target. We can't tell from this picture how the Duchess of Cornwall's throw went, but we applaud her for trying!

  • A Little B-Ball

    Prince Charles playing basketball
    Splash News

    It's not all polo and lawn bowling for the royal family. Prince Charles tried his hand at shooting a basketball during a 2012 outing to Fryshuset Youth Centre in Sweden. Most people don't shoot hoops in a full suit, but the Prince of Wales is nothing if not always dapper. Next time he plays, though, he may want to trade the slacks and shiny shoes for some shorts and sneakers.

  • Volleyball Outing

    Kate Middleton playing volleyball
    Splash News

    One of Kate Middleton's first outings after giving birth to Prince George was to the Sportaid Athlete Workshop. She took part in a volleyball game at the event and, when her shirt flew up a bit, the press couldn't stop talking about how she'd already gotten her abs back three months postpartum. 

    We're just impressed that she was playing volleyball in super tall wedges!

  • Brother vs. Brother

    Prince William and Prince Harry playing ping pong
    Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images

    This takes us back to a simpler time, when William and Harry's only battles were over a friendly game of table tennis. The duo faced off in 2018 at the opening of London's Greenhouse Sports Centre. We don't know who won the match, but the real win would be if the brothers could eventually reconcile. We miss the fab four of Harry, Meghan, Will, and Kate!

  • Kate Plays Pingpong, Too

    Kate Middleton playing ping pong
    Splash News

    William and Harry aren't the only royals who've given table tennis a try. The Duchess of Cambridge grabbed a paddle at a charity event in Ireland earlier in 2020. There really is almost no sport that Kate can't play, and even if she's not good at one, she'll try her hand at it anyway. Good thing this match was just for fun, and Kate played with a huge smile on her face.

  • Tennis Is One of Kate's Favorite Sports

    Kate Middleton playing tennis
    Splash News

    Forget table tennis, regular tennis is one of the duchess's all-time favorite sports. She can always be spotted at the Wimbledon tournaments. Sometimes her sister joins her, sometimes William does -- and even Meghan Markle came a few times. While those people all rotate in and out, Kate is the constant. She's there for nearly every match, and her facial expressions while watching are priceless.

  • Giving Netball a Try

    Meghan Markle playing netball
    Splash News

    Meghan is from the US, where we don't have a widespread netball presence, but the sport is popular among women in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. It's sort of like basketball, but there's no running with the ball or dribbling -- so the game mostly focuses on passing. The duchess picked it up in no time.

  • A Regular Katniss Everdeen

    Prince William shooting a bow and arrow
    Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

    At an event for blind servicemen and women in 2010, William got a lesson in archery and wore a blindfold to better understand how those without sight can still participate in sports. It's not the only time Will has given archery a shot (pun intended). On a trip to Bhutan in 2016, both Prince William and Kate Middleton got to use bows and arrows.

  • The Rugby Prince 

    Prince Harry playing rugby
    Splash News

    Prince Harry loves sports so much that he created the Invictus Games, a multi-sport event for wounded and injured veterans. His love for sports comes from his childhood, where he was named House Games Captain at his school, Eton, and played rugby, among other sports. Now, he works to make sure people of all ages can enjoy athletics, like these children he played rugby with in 2014.

  • Taking a Crack at Cricket

    Prince William playing cricket
    Splash News

    The baseball-esque sport of cricket is popular all over the world, and William got to play a bit while on a tour of India in 2016. His opponents were all children, which is a bit funny, but Will's performance was overshadowed by former Indian cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar. (No pressure!) Kate tried hitting the cricket ball while they were there as well, playing in a dress and heels.

  • Traditional Gaelic Games

    Kate Middleton playing hurling
    Splash News

    On the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's 2020 Ireland tour, Kate and Will got a chance to play some traditional Gaelic games with local children. In this photo, Kate is playing hurling which involves teams hitting a ball with a stick into goals. The royals also played Gaelic football, a sort of a combination of soccer and football where the teams can use their hands or feet to score goals.


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