How Prince William Showed Prince George the Ecstasy and Agony of English Soccer

Prince George may have woken up this morning feeling like any other English child—miserable.

The seven-year-old royal had a late night watching his country's dream of a first international trophy in 55 years fall to the cruelest sword: defeat in a penalty shoot-out.

The third in line to the throne cheered as England went 1-0 up in just two minutes, a record in a European Championship final, but saw Italy impose themselves and equalise in the second half.

Finally, at close to 11pm U.K. time, Bukayo Saka missed his England penalty and Italy became champions of Europe.

For Prince George, comfort came from his father, Prince William, who has been his guide throughout the tournament.

The Duke of Cambridge was photographed with his hands on Prince George's shoulders, while the disappointment was unmistakable on the young royal's face.

On Twitter after game, Prince William wrote: "Heartbreaking. Congratulations@Azzurri on a great victory. @England, you've all come so far, but sadly this time it wasn't our day. You can all hold your heads high, and be so proud of yourselves—I know there's more to come. W"

Heartbreaking. Congratulations @Azzurri on a great victory.
@England, you’ve all come so far, but sadly this time it wasn’t our day. You can all hold your heads high, and be so proud of yourselves — I know there’s more to come. W

— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 11, 2021

The Duke of Cambridge shared with his son the ecstasy of watching England beat age old rivals Germany 2-0 in the last 16 on Tuesday, June 29, when fans dared to dream.

The two countries have played each other many times but most famously for Queen Elizabeth II's subjects in 1966, when England beat their European neighbors 4-2 to win the World Cup.

Two weeks ago Prince George got a taste of what it feels like to join 40,000 England fans at Wembley Stadium, in London.

He joined in the national anthem and cheered when England scored, soaking up the atmosphere of a major international tournament.

The game was not his first football match though. Prince William supports Aston Villa and took Prince George and Princess Charlotte to their first game in October 2019.

At the time, they were treated to a 5-1 win away to Norwich with George winning hearts with his goal celebrations.

However, that was a premier league game, not a knock-out match in the final of a major tournament with the weight of a country's expectation on the players.

William, however, had already chosen the path of emotional heartache over regular glory earlier in life when he picked his club precisely because they would not win the league each year.

James: I didn’t think you were watching #Euro2021
Me: I’m not.
James: How’d you know England lost?
Me 👇

— RevDaniel (@RevDaniel) July 11, 2021

In 2015, he told BBC presenter Gary Lineker: "A long time ago at school I got into football big time. I was looking around for clubs. All my friends at school were either Man United fans or Chelsea fans and I didn't want to follow the run of the mill teams. I wanted to have a team that was more mid-table that could give me more emotional rollercoaster moments."

Today, Prince George will be coming to terms with the fact that a rollercoaster which goes up must also come down.

It is difficult to underestimate the role defeat at penalties plays in the English sporting psyche, including for current manager Gareth Southgate in the same tournament 25 years ago during his playing career.

However, as the front page of pro-royal U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail stated: "Penalties—it just had to be penalties."

Prince George and Prince William
Prince George and father Prince William, President of the Football Association, watch the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11, 2021 in London, England. William was seen comforting his son after England lost. Frank Augstein - Pool/Getty Images