Viewing figures on BBC One peaked at 18.3 million during the closes stages of an entertaining encounter, with those catching the final minutes treated to a dramatic finish.
Having bossed proceedings for long periods, Gareth Southgate’s side saw captain Kane snatch a stoppage-time winner and get them off to a perfect start on Russian soil.
More people – 69 per cent of all UK viewers – felt the need to catch Three Lions skipper Harry in action than watch Prince Harry tie the knot at Windsor Castle.
On top of those tuning in on television, 3m requests were made to stream the game online though BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport – the biggest audience for an online programme in the broadcasters’ history.
An average audience of 13.7m caught the hard-fought 2-1 victory for England, making it the most-watched programme of 2018 in the UK.
That title had previously been held by Britain’s Got Talent, but football now reigns supreme.
BBC anchor Gary Lineker was delighted to learn of the figures, calling them “astonishing”.
The viewing figures for England at major finals should, however, come as no surprise.
Even with expectations having been reined in following forgettable showings at recent tournaments, the nation does tend to unite behind the Three Lions.
Back in 1990, 25.2m people tuned in to endure semi-final penalty shoot-out heartache against West Germany, while 23.8m watched Michael Owen announce himself on the world stage and David Beckham suffer red card agony in a second round clash with Argentina at France ’98.
Victory in that encounter could book their place in the last-16, meaning that a final Group G fixture against Belgium will have less pressure riding on it.