Welwyn Garden City man who coached royalty
PUBLISHED: 15:08 08 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:44 08 March 2017
Danny Loo Photography 2017
A retired army PT instructor has told the Welwyn Hatfield Times how his lifelong connection with royalty led him to give the Queen a portrait of her late mother.
As an army PT instructor at Sandhurst Military Academy in the 1950s, William Heague, now 88, coached the Duke of Kent, first cousin to the Queen, through tough physical tests.
He told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “He was a bit weak at climbing the ropes.”
But under William’s guidance, the duke improved sufficiently to win the prestigious Sandhurst Sword of Honour, as the top graduate passing out as an officer in July 1955.
Their lasting friendship paid off many years later, when the royal duke opened new tennis courts at Welwyn Garden City’s Gosling Sports Park.
The duke presents the trophies at Wimbledon every year as president of the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
After Wiliiam retired from the British Army in 1968, he became manager of the stadium, staying at the helm for 20 years.
He passed on his royalism to his children, and in 2002, his daughter Angeline used photographs of the Queen Mother to produce an oil-painted portrait.
William told the Duke of Kent, and personally handed it to him at Buckingham Palace, shortly after the Queen Mother’s death at 101 on March 30, 2002.
William treasures the Queen’s letter of thanks, received in August, 2002.
But Angeline, who is now 65, lives in California, and was only able William a reproduction of the portrait only last month.
Wiliiam, who lives in Herns Lane, Welwyn Garden City, said: “I am very proud of her. She is very talented.”
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