THE Open golf championship had a regal air when Prince Andrew dropped in for a visit – and charmed the mayor and mayoress of Fylde with a cup of tea and a chat about golf,
The Duke of York was at Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf Club yesterday in his capacity as a former captain of tournament organisers the R&A and he was welcomed to Fylde by Mayor Coun Heather Speak, Mayoress Jennifer Robinson and Fylde Council chief executive Allan Oldfield.
The informal visit came just a week after Prince Andrew reportedly played the course when he piloted himself in by helicopter.
Coun Speak said: “It was wonderful to meet him and after the introductions, we went through to the captain’s lounge for a cup of tea and had a lovely chat about golf and a few laughs.”
The meeting with Prince Andrew completed a notable Royal “hat-trick’’ for Coun Speak little more than two months into her mayoral year. Her mayor-making ceremony at Lowther Pavilion in May was followed within hours with a meeting with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh during a Royal tour of Lancashire.
She added: “That was such an honour and so was the opportunity to meet the Duke of York. “It was very informal and the prince was so nice and down to earth.
“We joined him for a cup of tea and we sat watching some of the golf action on TV.
“Tiger Woods was practising and the subject of Tiger’s comments about the rough at the course came up. Prince Andrew said he had played the course himself last week and he had also found the rough testing but a very enjoyable challenge.”
The Duke of York plays off a four handicap and is understood to have piloted himself by helicopter to play Royal Lytham and St Annes last week at the invitation of the R&A and the club.
Yesterday, he arrived by road, driving himself into the course in a Range Rover, accompanied by Lord Shuttleworth, who organises all Royal visits to Lancashire, with another Range Rover in convoy behind.
Mr Oldfield added: “We were asked if the mayor, mayoress and myself could welcome him on an informal basis.
“We shook his hand and while I headed off elsewhere to take care of the necessary duties during this very busy time for the council, the mayor and mayoress joined him for a cup of tea.
“It was first time I had met him and he was very pleasant indeed and was very much looking forward to watching some golf.”
After the tea and chat with the Mayor and Mayoress, the Duke of York is understood to have taken part in an event involving the Help For Heroes soldiers’ charity before catching up with some play.