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Club news

Fletcher - Meeting Duke was chance of a lifetime


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Cherries legend Steve Fletcher recalled the memorable time in the summer of 2004 when he met the Duke of Edinburgh on a royal visit to Bournemouth.

After news broke earlier on Friday that Prince Philip (pictured above and below at Kings Park) had passed away at the age of 99, Fletcher, who was AFC Bournemouth captain at the time spoke to afcb.co.uk about his royal engagement.

He recalled: “We trained in the morning and then got wind that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were going to be visiting, we asked if we could go across, somebody finalised it and the next thing we knew we had the whole squad over on Kings Park."

The prestigious visitors were on a trip to Bournemouth that July, greeted next to the home of the Cherries by members of the playing and coaching staff, including current coaches Fletcher and Stephen Purches.

The royal guests would then move on to Pier Approach, where thousands welcomed them, before they concluded their trip at Poole’s Lighthouse and the RNLI training college.

“We had to make up two lines because there were so many of us, including everyone else who was meeting the royalty," remembered Fletcher. "One line was for the Duke and one line was for the Queen, their helicopter landed in the park with quite a few hundred people there in the crowds.

“The whole squad and the coaching staff were there, Sean O’Driscoll was our manager at the time. I was speaking to Stephen Purches about it the other day, it only seems like yesterday but it’s coming up to 17 years ago.

“My line was the Duke’s so I spoke to him, he asked me about my position at the club and we had a little chat for ten or 15 seconds. He was quite chatty as he always was and as you’ve seen on all his engagements.

“I also wanted to meet the Queen, but we’d been told we had to stay in our own line. I managed to sneak away and join the back of the other line, so I got to meet both!

“I didn’t speak to the Queen, but I shook her hand and gave a little bow. It was the chance of a lifetime and you never know if you’ll get to meet them again."

After today's sad announcement, Fletcher offered his thoughts on Prince Philip and the important role he played for the nation.

“He represented the Royal Family fantastically over the years, he was enthusiastic to ask us questions and now it’s a sad time for the country," he said. "He was a great ambassador and a great spokesperson for the Royal Family, in the UK and when travelling the world.

“It’s a great memory that I have, and with his passing now I’ll never get that opportunity again. That he gave us a bit of time and chatted to me and about our football club is something that will never leave me."

Photos provided courtesy of the Daily Echo.

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