The Queen has sent a personal message to England manager Gareth Southgate, paying tribute to his side’s ‘spirit, commitment and pride’ ahead of the Euro 2020 final.
In a short note addressed to Southgate, the monarch congratulated the national team on behalf of the entire Royal Family for reaching the final against Italy at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Victory would mark the men’s football team’s first major tournament win since the famous 1966 World Cup, also at Wembley.
The Queen recalled presenting that trophy to Sir Bobby Moore almost six decades ago and seeing what it meant to the players and staff.
In her message to the team, she said: ‘Fifty-five years ago I was fortunate to present the World Cup to Bobby Moore and saw what it meant to the players, management and support staff to reach and win the final of a major international football tournament.
‘I want to send my congratulations and that of my family to you all on reaching the final of the European Championships, and send my good wishes for tomorrow with the hope that history will record not only your success but also the spirit, commitment and pride with which you have conducted yourselves.’
Support has swelled in recent days across an expectant nation – and the Royal Family has been gripped by football fever like every other.
Prince Charles has backed England to go all the way and beat Italy, telling pubgoers during a visit to Wales this week that ‘it would be wonderful if they won’.
He revealed he would be watching the final at home, adding that watching the national side ‘is not good for the nerves’.
His son, the Duke of Cambridge, will be joining 65,000 fans at Wembley Stadium for the big game.
Prince William, who is president of the Football Association, has witnessed much of England’s journey through the tournament at close quarters, having cheered the Three Lions to victory on multiple occasions already.
He was present with other dignitaries to celebrate the team’s extra-time victory over Denmark in the semi-final on Wednesday, alongside the likes of former England skipper David Beckham and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The duke was also seen celebrating England’s historic 2-0 victory over Germany in the last 16 stage, where he was joined in the stands by the Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George.
Southgate said it was ‘fantastic’ to get a letter from the Queen and vowed he and the team are ‘here to win’ for the final.
He told reporters at a press conference on Saturday evening: ‘We want to go and bring the trophy home.’
Fans lined the road and waved flags as they waved the team bus off on Saturday from the England training complex.
Captain Harry Kane has acknowledged the strength of public feeling that was behind the team and national excitement that has built throughout the tournament.
He said: ‘They’ll all be cheering us on around the country and we just can’t wait to hopefully try to win the game for them.’
Addressing the press conference, he said: ‘To see the fans on the street like they have been and to see the reception that we’ve had as we’ve pulled into the hotel here and as we was leaving St George’s Park, it has just shown us how big an occasion it is.’
He added: ‘We know how much it means to the English fans all over the country so we’re proud to be representing them and hopefully we can do them proud again tomorrow night.’
A video was tweeted from the official England team account with the message: ‘Wow… what a send-off! Amazing scenes as the #ThreeLions depart St. George’s Park for the final time.’
A good luck message from David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds – who are behind the anthemic Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home) – has been projected onto the white cliffs of Dover ahead of match.
Across London’s transport network there will be good luck messages on digital display, with well wishes visible at Tube stations, the DLR and London Overground as well as at bus stops and on road traffic alert signs.
Southgate has spoken of his pride in England’s history, and his squad’s role in driving ‘tolerance and inclusion’ in modern England, as he rallied fans across the nation.
As the England manager readies himself for his team’s own place in history, he said he wanted his players to help do “positive things that we could help to change or influence in society”.
The team under Southgate has been hailed for its social conscience which has seen squad members saluted for taking the knee against racism, making a stand on donating to the NHS, and taking the fight for free school meals to Downing Street.