Raducanu and Murray start Wimbledon with wins
Members of the royal family are known to be fans of Wimbledon, with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, who is patroness of the All England Club, often spotted enjoying the event from the royal box. This week the historic tournament began qualifying and on Tuesday Zara and Mike Tindall took to center court to watch tennis stars from around the world play. Other senior royals expected to attend the sporting event include Prince William, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who have become Wimbledon regulars over the years.
But the connection dates back to long before the Windsors, with the first royal appearance over a century ago when then-Prince of Wales, future King George V and his wife Princess Mary attended the games of 1907.
George had been invited to attend and present the winner’s trophy by his childhood friend, George Hillyard, who had just been appointed secretary of the Wimbledon Club.
In the same year, George V became the club’s president, and since then it has become traditional for a member of the royal family to be involved in the organization.
Today Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the Queen’s first cousin, is chairman of the All England Club and is also often seen handing out trophies.
Kate sent a note of apology to Andy Murray.
Zara and Mike Tindall at Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Duchess of Cambridge is royal patron, having assumed the role in 2016 after the retirement of Queen Elizabeth II, who held the title from 1952.
Members of the royal family usually watch the famous tennis competition from the Royal Box, which was added to Wimbledon’s center court in 1922.
It has hosted a number of royals, from Princess Margaret to Diana, Princess of Wales, foreign diplomats, celebrities, friends and family of the royal family.
However, history shows that the royals didn’t just enjoy watching the games – they also competed.
Princess Diana in the royal box at Wimbledon in 1993.
The Queen’s father, the future King George VI but then Prince Albert, Duke of York, played in the doubles tournament alongside his squire Group Captain Sir Louis Leisler Greig: unfortunately the pair lost in the first round .
In the 1940s, during World War II, there was no Wimbledon.
Instead, the grounds were used by the British Home Guard and fire and ambulance services.
In 1940, Center Court was damaged in a bombardment, and although the tournament resumed in 1946, the court was not repaired until 1947.
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The future King George VI played at Wimbledon in 1926.
Following the death of King George VI, the new Queen Elizabeth II was named godmother, but the monarch apparently did not step into her role – her visit in 2010 to see Andy Murray compete was her first in 33 years.
Murray called the match a “unique opportunity” which saw the return of the centuries-old tradition of bowing to royal guests, a custom which was largely suppressed by the Duke of Kent, who deemed it anachronistic in the modern times.
The Duke inherited the family’s love for tennis, which dates back to King Henry VIII, who is said to have been one of the sport’s earliest fans.
Roman Krznaric, a cultural historian and true competitive tennis player, previously told The New York Times that Henry VIII was an important patron of the game.
The King enjoyed betting on tennis so much that he built courts around London, including one at the Palace of Whitehall, which was later converted into a building that now houses the Prime Minister’s Office.
Henry VIII also had his own private court at his Hampton Court home and is said to have spent hours playing the sport.
Mr Krznaric said: “The king was a sportsman, he practiced peddling, hunting, archery and jousting.
“He was six feet tall and he could probably move like a cat. I imagine he was a good player.”
King Henry VIII was an important patron of tennis.
Now the Duchess of Cambridge is a fixture at the annual tournament, having developed an interest in tennis as a child.
In 2017, she sat down for an interview during the BBC documentary, ‘Sue Barker: Our Wimbledon’, and told Ms Barker that watching Wimbledon ‘is really part of my growing up’.
The Duchess added: “It’s such an essential part of the English summer, and I think it really inspires young people, myself, it inspired me, when I was younger to get involved in the game.”
Kate is said to have passed on her passion to her three children – Prince George, eight, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four.
Kate is an avid tennis player and has been interested in this sport since childhood.
In April, she was spotted playing tennis with her children at the Hurlingham Club, an exclusive sports club in London.
The Duchess is often joined by her mother, Carole Middleton, father, Michael, and sister, Pippa Matthews at Wimbledon, and even attended the tournament privately before officially entering the royal fold in 2011.
In 2013, when told she ‘definitely couldn’t’ attend the prestigious tournament because she was heavily pregnant with Prince George, the future Queen wrote Murray a note of apology.
In the BBC documentary, she admitted: “I wrote to him afterwards saying sorry he wasn’t there, but congratulations.”