alt July 2 - Prince William (pictured) is to lend his support to British water polo as its prepare for the London 2012 Olympics by attending next week's LEN European Nations Trophy in Manchester.

The Royal guest will also meet with individual players and key figures within the sport and business communities.

Prince William is passionate about the sport and while at St Andrew’s University was a keen member of the water polo team.

In 2004 he was selected to represent Scotland Universities in an international tournament and while serving in the Army also played water polo.

In 2005, many athletes decided to pursue their Olympic dreams for London 2012 and gave up education and employment to move to Manchester where British Swimming’s High Performance Water Polo Centre is based.

However, following a funding cut of 75 per cent by UK Sport, many face real financial hardship as they continue to prepare for London.

As a result of the funding cut, the water polo programme itself has been split with the women continuing to prepare in Manchester while the men will eventually be based offshore with professional clubs to continue their development.

Prince William’s support of British water polo has been greeted enthusiastically by British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes.

He said: "The support of Prince William, as someone who has regularly played water polo, is welcomed by everybody at this critical time for British Water Polo - particularly the athletes.

"The athletes were obviously disappointed to learn their budget was cut by 75 per cent by UK Sport but despite this set back both the women’s and men’s teams have shown dogged determination to continue.

"Recent successful results for the men at tournaments in Turkey and Poland have demonstrated this resolve and a hard fought triumph over one of our arch rivals France after a 30-year wait is testament to that.

"The Prince’s support will further lift the spirits of our water polo players and coaches, and will renew their commitment and determination to be there in 2012 competing with distinction against the best in the world."

Prince William’s show of support will be welcomed by the women's team who will have home advantage during the LEN European Nations Trophy at the Manchester Aquatic Centre.

Britain will open their tournament on Tuesday against Belarus before facing Portugal the next day and rounding off their group matches against Slovakia, which will be attended by Prince William.