by Scott Mehl
It’s a very familiar sight for any tennis fan – the Royal Box on Centre Court at The All England Club, Wimbledon. One most any given day during the two-week Wimbledon Championships, there are usually a few royals in attendance. The Duke of Kent is the most prominent, as he serves as President of the All England Club, and typically presents the winners’ trophies. On occasion, some of the more senior royals have attended and presented the trophies, including The Queen and The Princess Royal. Diana, Princess of Wales, was also a regular visitor. In this photo, taken just before her marriage to the Prince of Wales, Lady Diana is seated in the second row, with Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie of Monaco next to her. In front are Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco next to the Duke of Kent.
But in 1926, along with some royals in the Royal Box, there was also one on court! The Duke of York (future King George VI) was a participant in the Men’s Doubles Tournament, partnering with Sir Louis Greig, a close friend and equerry.
Sir Louis had gained a place in the tournament after winning the Royal Air Force Championships and asked the Duke to be his partner. With The Duchess of York watching and dressed in his Wimbledon whites, the future King took to the court with Sir Louis, only to be beaten quite easily (6-1,6-3,6-2) by another pair of Brits across the net. It would be the first, and so far last time we’ve seen a royal participant in the Wimbledon Championships.