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Prince William shows off his football skills on the queen's lawn

By Max Foster, CNN
updated 4:20 PM EDT, Mon October 7, 2013
Prince William shows off his footballing skills during a training session on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Prince William shows off his footballing skills during a training session on the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prince William shows off his football skills
  • Takes part in training session on a specially laid pitch at Buckingham Palace
  • Pitch was used for a match between two historic English football teams
  • The Duke of Cambridge is President of English Football Association

(CNN) -- "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."

The Duke of Cambridge was speaking just before the first official football match at Buckingham Palace.

Prince William, the heir to the British throne, is President of the English Football Association (FA), a role he says is an extension of a personal passion:

"The beautiful game has changed an awful lot during the queen's reign, but it remains the most loved game in the country, most probably the world," he said.

He describes football as "a chance to escape with friends and family and enjoy its virtues -- teamwork, competition, endeavor and, more occasionally on my part, skill."

On Monday he had a chance to show off those skills on the specially prepared pitch at the Palace.

Wearing boots given to him by Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney, he joined members of the queen's household team in a training session.

Read: By royal command: Football comes to Buckingham Palace

Prince William is a fan of English Premier League side Aston Villa but he chose two teams from lower leagues to play a full 90-minute match on the royal grounds to mark the 150th anniversary of the FA.

Civil Service FC is the only surviving member of the FA formed in 1863, and Polytechnic FC was formed slightly later in 1875.

But the day was really about rewarding the unsung heroes of the national game: "Grassroots football thrives on the support of its volunteers week after week," he said.

Many of those volunteers were invited to the palace to see the match.

There was nothing but praise for the royal groundsmen who spent weeks getting the garden match-fit.

Watch: Max Foster interviews Prince William

This is a space normally graced only by family members and the odd garden party. It has its own unique challenges for a city center garden.

The park-like space is a flourishing habitat for wildlife including a large gaggle of geese whose droppings litter the entire space at this time of year.

The groundsmen spent much of the morning cleaning up the football pitch with a vacuum cleaner.

They then swept away the carpet of leaves away with wooden brooms.

But the fact the Queen was away did provide one advantage: "There shouldn't be any corgis running on to the pitch," Prince William joked.

Now the historic match is over (Polytechnic won 2-1) the corgis and geese have their garden back.

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