On Wednesday, before The Duke of Edinburgh told the world he was retiring in the fall at the age of 96, he carried out an engagement where he opened a new £25 million stand at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The Duke is an honorary Life Member of Marylebone Cricket Club.
Before pulling a cord that would part two small curtains to reveal a plaque quipped beforehand to the crowd: “You’re about to see the world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler”. This joke originated during a tree-planting ceremony when Prince Harry said: “It’s what we do.”
The Duke is thought to be the Royal Family’s keenest cricket fan. He played the sport as a younger man and served as MCC President in 1949 and 1974. He wore his red and gold MCC tie to the Lord’s club. After arriving, eggs and a bacon as he is referred to, he chatted with senior club members in the pavilion committee room. He went on to the outfield and met Gadding and former England bowler Angus Fraser.
During his time at the Cricket Grounds, The Duke was shown bats by Dr Chinmay Gupte and John Stephenso. He also viewed a plethora of bats; one dating back to the 1890’s used by Albert Trott and a huge monstrosity of a bat that would now be considered illegal. The Duke examined a bat with a long handle, known as the Mongoose and said to Mike Gadding, former England captain: “It’s an offensive weapon.”
During his time opening the new Warner Stand, which was originally built in 1958 and named after legendary cricket player and England captain, Sir Pelham Warner, The Duke met with primary-aged cricketers and former England players. The new Warner stand can seat 2656 spectators.
Before cutting the ribbon, TheDuke was also shown a new pink ball that was developed for both day and evening games. It has prototype stumps with retractable bails to lessen the number of injuries from flying bails.
Gatting told The Telegraph after meeting Philip, who was invited to lunch in the new stand’s restaurant: “He always seems to be very aware and interested in what’s happening in the game.
“He’s been a wonderful supporter of the MCC and the sport generally.”