His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester was ‘highly impressed’ by his visit to a croquet club in Southwick where he officially open the 2019 Simon Carter Golf Croquet World Championship.
The Duke visited the Sussex County Croquet Club in Victoria Road, Southwick, for the start of the nine day competition which has entrants from 20 countries.
He was met by a receiving party, including president of the club Jonathan Isaacs, before being given a short demonstration of golf croquet, which is known for its shorter games and faster play than traditional croquet.
He was joined by the Susan Pyper, Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex; George Barton, the chairman of Adur District Council and Tim Loughton, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham.
His Royal Highness was then taken down onto the lawns to play a short game with two top world players, which Mr Isaacs said ‘he loved’.
The Duke of Gloucester was partnered with 24-year-old John-Paul Moberly, Britain’s youngest ever captain, while Mrs Pyper was partnered with American champion Ben Rothman.
The guests then took their places for the opening flag ceremony, which was accompanied by local musicians Andy Woon and his jazz band.
After speeches, the Duke of Gloucester was presented to various players, club volunteers and officials.
Mr Isaacs said it was ‘fantastic’ to have him visit the club, which is one of the largest and oldest in the world.
He said the Duke was the first royal to come to the club since 1900, when it moved to its current site and the Duke of Cambridge attended the first ever tournament.
Mr Isaacs said: “I think he was highly impressed.
“The lawns are the best they’ve ever been.
“Quite a lot of the players we have here are young people. It’s very much becoming a young person’s sport.”
The championship is the first to be hosted at the Southwick venue since 2004.
Mr Isaacs said: “We’ve spent a lot of money upgrading the club. We’ve relaid all the lawns in the last five years.”
The championship continues all week, with the final taking place on Sunday. Visitors are welcome to attend, entry is £5.
Earlier the same day, the Duke of Gloucester visited Horsham for a special event commemorating 150 years of this newspaper’s sister title, the West Sussex County Times.