Fran Wright – Fleet Photographic Unit
As duty photographer, I was assigned to cover a VIP visit in 1982 from Countess Mountbatten of Burma to HM Dockyard Portsmouth, accompanied by veterans from the HMS Kelly Old Comrades Association.
In time-honoured tradition I posted a set of photographs from their visit to the Association in a timely manner, thereafter, promptly committing the experience to ‘another day at the office’.
Fast forward a few months later with a note of thanks for their photographs, two tickets arrived at the FPU to a dinner on HMS Belfast hosted by HMS Kelly Old Comrades Association of which HRH Prince Charles was their patron.
Luckily for me I was given first refusal on the tickets and invited one of my sisters along to the event. Great excitement ensued along with a trip to Chelsea Girl on Oxford St in search of suitable dresses for the occasion.
As the evening progressed, dancing followed dinner with my sister and I keeping a discreet distance from fellow diners who, in the pursuit of an autograph, graciously secured an audience with HRH The Prince of Wales.
I can’t claim to be the only one to dance with the future King of England that evening however I will always remember the moment when Prince Charles approached my sister and I with his entourage, engaging us in conversation by asking us what our connection with the Association was.
Having established the facts we were then faced with the question “which of you young ladies am I going to dance with?”. Fortunately, we weren’t required to make the decision – I was chosen on merit of my forces background – even more fortunately I managed to uncross my ankles and safely place my glass of wine onto the table alongside us, without falling over. Attempting my best to shuffle around the dancefloor, I was acutely aware of my clammy hands all the while being extremely conscious of his warm palms and conversation.
Needless to say, I’ve been dining out on this dit for some time – well it does rather eclipse the occasion when I sat on the lap of Michael Fish at the Ideal Home Exhibition, less said…