Prince Harry, serving as honorary president of England's rugby team, also addressed fans in attendance and congratulated players. He reflected on memorable tournament moments, including the time South African President Nelson Mandela handed the tournament trophy to his country's team captain, François Pienaar, after the team overcame adversity — on and off the field — in 1995. (That team's journey inspired the 2009 movie "Invictus," starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.)
"This evening marks the beginning of a celebration of rugby which I hope will inspire current players, those new to the game and future generations," William said. "There will be moments in this World Cup which will live with us for the rest of our lives."
A first-time Rugby World Cup host, England won its only Web Ellis Cup in 2003. The event has been held every four years since 1987, when New Zealand won it all; that country also won the 2011 tournament.