In a rare television interview, the Duchess of Kent has revealed her admiration of British adventurer and television presenter Bear Grylls.
Speaking to the BBC’s Simon McCoy, the Duchess revealed how she was seated near to the adventurer at last year’s championships, and tried her best to get close to him.
The 85-year-old royal said: “Bear Grylls was sitting close to me at Wimbledon last year. I went close to him, but you are not allowed to take in mobile phones or cameras.
The journalist asked the Duchess whether asking for a photo with Bear was tempting.
“It was”, the Duchess replied.
The Duchess, who retired from public duties almost two decades ago, also spoke of her admiration of tennis player Roger Federer.
She said: “Roger Federer is an extraordinary person. He is remarkable, charming, and plays with such grace.”
Speaking of the championships, Katharine said: “I think it is truly the best thing in the world; the atmosphere is electric.”
She continued: “I was so frightened about going to onto centre court. Even just walking into the box is absolutely incredible. You are so close – that is amazing.”
Along with her husband, the Duchess of Kent began handing out trophies to the winners of Wimbledon in 1969. It is a tradition she continued until 2001, well after she retired from royal life. The last person to be awarded a prize from Katharine was Venus Williams who won that year. Her husband, the Duke of Kent, continues to present the prizes at Wimbledon 48 years on and continues to serve as President.
Katharine is probably best known for the presentation of prizes in 1993 when she comforted Jana Novotna, who burst into tears after losing the final to Steffi Graf. This moment went down in tennis history, and people found a new admiration for a royal they might not have previously heard of. In another year, the Duchess was determined to hand out prizes to the winners of Wimbledon despite having her foot in a cast.
In her first TV interview for seven years, the Duchess said: “Jana and I became quite firm friends.”
Simon McCoy proceeded to ask the 85-year-old royal about the moment she comforted Jana, who died last year from cancer.
Katharine replied: “That’s what you do when people are crying. We are quite normal people. We do hug people who cry. It is a natural reaction!”