It felt like a changing of the guard. For decades, the Duke of Kent has handed over the prizes at Wimbledon but today he stepped aside. For the first time, the Duchess of Cambridge presented the trophies on Centre Court at the end of an already legendary match.
The duchess, patron of the All England Tennis Club, had joined the duke, the club’s president, in the Royal Box at Wimbledon for what turned out to be a classic clash and the longest Men’s Singles Final in the tournament’s history. They watched Novak Djokovic retain the title with a five set win over Roger Federer before stepping on to the famous green grass of SW19 together.Embed from Getty Images
The Duke of Kent and the Duchess of Cambridge chatted to the ballboys and ballgirls who formed a guard of honour as they made their way on to court. The Duke of Kent presented the medals to the tournament and final officials before Kate stepped on to a pale green carpet to take hand over the prizes for the first time. The champion bowed his head before the duchess presented the famous Challenge Cup which has been the prize for winners of the Men’s Singles title for over 100 years. He later took to Twitter to say it had been ‘an honour’ to receive the trophy from the royal guest.
Wimbledon has been associated with the Kents for years. The duke’s mother, Princess Marina, was president of the club for 26 years and often made the presentations at the end of the tournament. Her last official appearance was at Wimbledon in 1968 – she was diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly after that year’s tournament and died a few weeks later. The Duke of Kent took on the role his mother had held for so long and has usually presented the prizes at Wimbledon, stepping aside previously when the Queen attended in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year.
Kate became patron of the All England Club in 2017 and is a regular in the Royal Box. She made three visits to the tournament this year, watching some of the early rounds during week one then returning for the Women’s Singles Final yesterday which she watched alongside the Duchess of Sussex. She attended today’s match with the Duke of Cambridge.
And as the light began to fade on Centre Court after an epic sporting contest, she added her name to the list of royals who have presented the trophies at this British sporting institution. Given how long the Duke of Kent has taken on this particular role, it had something of a significance. It’s a few minutes in the royal year but it pointed to a new way of doing things as the House of Windsor continues to change.