Centre Court action began today in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who sat in the Royal Box next to Sir Bruce Forsyth and his wife Wilnelia. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would type. We don’t think Brucie dared to greet the royal couple with his game show catchphrase, “Nice to see you, to see you…Nice!” First on court was the regal Roger Federer who made a business-like despatch of Fabio Fognini. The Prince waved and looked particularly tickled when both players made an affectionate bow towards him as they arrived on court.
Last year the Duchess attended alone, but the Prince is also a huge tennis enthusiast though he had not enjoyed a visit to SW19 since 1970. Happily this year their diaries allowed them to visit together, though they arrived separately because of prior engagements.
The Duchess arrived at 11.40am and was met by Philip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club, and committee member John Dunningham. She shook hands with an impressive line-up of Service Stewards, and also Chief Steward Andrew Gairdner who retires after this year’s Championships. Former finalist Andy Roddick happened to be around and was invited to be part of the presentation. He immediately threw his cap to one side before the royal meeting. The Duchess complimented Roddick on a match she had watched three years ago and was overheard to say “It’s a joy to meet you”.
Roddick described the encounter as “a lot of fun”, adding: “I got to meet the Queen a couple of years ago and these are things you realise you don't get to do very often, they are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. We always forget the magnitude of Wimbledon and who might be watching.”
Prince Charles was not due until after lunch but arrived 45 minutes ahead of schedule, so a place was made for him at the table. Prior to perusing the menu, he met four retired Australian players Frank Sedgman, Ashley Cooper, Neale Fraser and Judy Dalton, in a nod to the forthcoming tour of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea that The Prince will undertake later this year accompanied by The Duchess as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Tim Henman and Lt Col Bruce Cox, Head of Service Stewards also welcomed him to Wimbledon.
Luncheon menu in the Royal Room was as follows:
Chilled Lobster Bisque served with a King Prawn
Poached Scottish Cod with a Sorrel Sauce
Baby leeks, peas and turned potatoes
Herb Crusted Welsh Lamb Cutlet
Garlic and rosemary marinated lamb medallions, sweet pea puree, saffron potato and a red wine sauce
Potato and Sun Blushed Tomato Tatin
Poached Shetland Isles Salmon
King prawns, new potato and watercress salad with a shallot, parsley and lemon zest dressing
Seared Fillet of Lancashire Beef
Marinated wild mushroom salad with rocket and parmesan flakes
Char-grilled Vale of Evesham Asparagus Mimosa.
Grated free range egg, baby capers and tarragon
Kentish Jubilee Strawberries
Cornish clotted cream
British and Irish Cheese Plate
Thomas Hoe Red Leicester, Gubbeen, Perl Las, Kidderton Ash with quince jelly and Milners toast.