William begins Scotland tour hours after criticising BBC over Diana interview

The Duke of Cambridge has begun a week-long visit to Scotland less than a day after heavily criticising the BBC for its failings in the handling of his mother’s Panorama interview.

William was pictured looking relaxed and smiling during a visit to the home of a lower league football club in Edinburgh, to highlight the issue of mental health, where he spoke to players while sat in the stands and showed off his football skills on the pitch.

The future king, who is president of the Football Association, also chatted to male and female footballers from the UK’s four national teams during a video call which featured England star Harry Kane.

On Thursday night, William took the rare decision to make a televised statement lambasting the BBC after an inquiry found the broadcaster covered up “deceitful behaviour” used by journalist Martin Bashir to secure his 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

He said: “It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.”

His brother the Duke of Sussex also issued a scathing statement, saying: “The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life.”

Harry has sent more shockwaves through the royal family with his comments in a documentary series aired today about his struggles with anxiety and how he turned to drink and drugs following the trauma of losing his mother.

He also accused his family of “total neglect” when his wife Meghan was feeling suicidal amid harassment on social media.

William shows off his football skills during his visit to the Edinburgh club
William shows off his football skills during his visit to Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In the stands, William spoke to members of the Scottish FA’s board and the Mental Health Advisory Panel it helped establish and told them: “Young men are really susceptible to serious mental health issues and more likely to bottle it up and not talk about it.”

He added: “Both of you are good listeners. That’s where it starts from.”

The duke went on to say: “Lockdown has tested everyone in ways we didn’t think they would and taken away coping mechanisms to get through it, it’s quite difficult.”

The Scottish FA and the advisory panel have spearheaded the introduction of a new mental health e-learning platform after signing a Mentally Healthy Football declaration established by William’s Heads Up campaign, which aimed to harness the power of football to change the conversation around mental health.

William appeared to put his deep concerns around the BBC’s treatment of his mother to one side as he tested his touch skills during a football drill challenge at Ainslie Park Stadium in Edinburgh, home of The Spartans FC.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
The Duke of Cambridge during a video call with players from the four nations (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The duke was joined by grassroots players from Scotland’s Mental Health Football and Wellbeing League and former Scotland striker Steven Thompson.

The League was set up to support recovery and tackle the stigma associated with mental health, with support from the Scottish FA.

William, who is a keen Aston Villa fan, took shots at a goal and beat the keeper a number of times.

Inside the clubhouse he had a video call with footballers Harry Kane, 27, David Marshall, 36, Jess Fishlock, 34, and Julie Nelson, 35.

Kane, a Spurs and England striker, said: “Mental health is an important part of the game. Everyone expresses emotions in different ways.

“I talk to teammates a little bit more and ask them a little bit more about family life and personal life and get to know them because we spend so much time together, so I personally try to dig deeper into each individual.”

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Later, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, William took part in the Ceremony of the Keys in his role as the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The sovereign is represented at the General Assembly by the Lord High Commissioner, who attends as an observer and is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.

William stopped to speak with soldiers as he inspected the guard of honour and the band during the ceremony, and joked about being vaccinated at the Science Museum on Tuesday.

He said it was “very gentle” as he laughed with a member of the military.