Duchess ‘deeply hurt’ by Wimbledon boss ‘boycotted’ Royal Box for ‘cheap seats’

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The Duchess of Kent was “deeply hurt” after Wimbledon chiefs blocked her request to have the 12-year-old son of a murdered headmaster into the Royal Box, unearthed reports have revealed.

Katherine, who is married to the Queen's cousin Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, was a regular face at world famous Wimbledon and regularly handed out winning trophies.

However, her relationship with the tournament went sour when she invited the son of Philip Lawrence to sit next to her in the Royal Box

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Mr Lawrence had been stabbed to death outside the gates of his London school when he went to the aid of a pupil who was being attacked by a gang.

Her request, which dates back to 1999, was refused because children who were not royals were not allowed to sit in the exclusive enclosure that is used by the likes of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The child, who is now in his mid forties, was offered alternative seating and the Duchess received a letter from Wimbledon tennis chief John Curry reminding her of the rules.

There were reports the letter also told her to keep guests limited to one a day, with the Guardian reporting the Duchess was "in the habit of inviting three or four guests several times during the tournament".

According to the BBC, the duchess was "deeply hurt" by the letter and threatened a boycott of the Royal Box.

In September 1999, the Wimbledon chief reportedly apologised to Katharine, but stood by the ban.

In a statement, he said: "I regret any unintentional hurt this may have caused to her Royal Highness."

He also denied restricting her guests to one per day, and said: "As happens every year with all our royal guests, I reconfirmed our guidelines concerning the invitation of additional guests and the subject of children.

"No royal has been limited to one guest in the past or will be in the future."

Refusing to change the ban, the chief added: "Because of demand for space in the royal box, we also ask that, apart from children of the royal family, children are not invited as they exclude other worthy people from attending, many of whom contribute to tennis."

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While there were reports of the Duchess threatening to boycott the Royal Box, she made it clear that she "respects the rules".

Since this incident, the Duchess has rarely attended Wimbledon, with reports she threatened to boycott the Royal Box.

But friends insist she has not done so. One friend said: "It's simply not her style. She goes there every year, often sitting with friends in the cheap seats where no one notices her.”

Along with her husband Prince Edward, Katharine continued to hand out winners’ trophies until 2001. That year she handed the top prize to Venus Williams.


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