Wimbledon began on June 25 and will continue until July 8 this year. The Royal Family has a long association with Wimbledon which, according to the official Wimbledon website, dates back to 1907. It was in that year that the Prince of Wales and Princess Mary paid a visit; they watched until a thunderstorm put and end to tennis for the day. I can relate; my first visit to Wimbledon several years ago included many hours spent waiting for the rain to stop. So of course I ate a whole lot of strawberries and cream to pass the time.
One of the perks for Royal tennis fans is the Royal Box at Centre court each year at Wimbledon. You’ll notice that in very few of the photographs to follow is there a lady wearing a hat; attendees in the royal box are asked not to wear them in order to ensure that other spectator’s views are not blocked.
Marina, Duchess of Kent
We’ll start with Marina, Duchess of Kent. Love this photo of Marina of her presenting the trophy to American Doris Hart in 1951.
The Duchess of Kent took over this duty from her husband Princes George, Duke of Kent, after he passed away in 1942. She loved tennis and attended Wimbledon until her death in 1968, at which point her son Prince Edward of Kent took over. From 1969 on, he and his wife Katherine began presenting the winner’s trophies.
Katharine, Duchess of Kent
2001 is the most recent year that Katherine, Duchess of Kent presented the trophy at Wimbledon. In more recent years the Duchess has withdrawn from public life, and this is one of the many duties that she has chosen to no longer participate in.
The Duchess of Kent is shown here presenting the trophy to Martina Navratilova in 1978.
And here she is with Lady Diana a few weeks before the Royal Wedding in 1981:
Here she is consoling Jana Novotna after she lost the final match to Steffi Graf in 1993. Side note: Five years later in 1998, Novotna did win women’s title at Wimbledon so there is a happy ending!
Presenting to Pete Sampras in 1999:
Princess Grace of Monaco
This rarely seen photograph of the Princess of Monaco and Lady Diana was taken in 1981 just before the the royal wedding, which was held on July 29. Princess Grace just squeaked by with that jaunty fedora, eh?
As we know, Princess Diana was a huge fan of the sport and was a frequent visitor to Wimbledon. It has often been said that she would have enjoyed being at Highgrove more had Prince Charles agreed to put in a tennis court.
Here she is with her sister Lady Jane watching a match in 1984.
A tense moment in 1989:
In 1990, still rocking the ’80′s sunglasses:
When he was old enough, Princess Diana often brought Prince William to Wimbledon. Here they are in 1991 cheering on Steffi Graff, who won the Ladies Singles Final that year.
The Duchess of Kent dropped by to say hello:
Princess Diana and Steffi were quite friendly, so it’s no surprise that she’s who the Princess was rooting for. After all, they played a doubles game of tennis together at the Vanderbilt Tennis Club in June of 1988. Princess Diana was there to mark the opening of the International Women’s Tennis Association headquarters in London and this is a photograph of that day:
Here is a very short bit of footage from that event:
In 1993, Princess Diana brought her mum, Frances Shand-Kydd.
Diana and William were there again in 1994:
Diana was joined by Princess Michael of Kent and her son Freddie Windsor for another match that year:
Sadly, Princess Diana’s last visit to Wimbledon was in 1995: