Leander Club President, Mike Sweeney said: “The Members, Athletes and Staff of Leander Club have learnt with great sadness of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We join the nation in mourning for the passing of this exceptional monarch. We remember her selfless devotion to duty in support of all her people, throughout the world. We thank her for guiding her country through an ever-changing world, always leading by example.
“In 2006, I was Chairman of Henley Royal Regatta and had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace where she presided over a small ceremony for us. In her presence the Rector of Imperial College handed over a new Trophy to the Regatta – The Prince Albert Challenge Cup. It was a pleasure to be in her company and to appreciate her interest and understanding of the rowing world.”
History of the Royal Patronage
The former Prince of Wales was a member in his own right and was invited to become Patron of Leander Cub when he ascended the throne in 1936. His brother having assumed the throne, took on the role as our Patron, and that position was gladly agreed by his daughter in 1952.
As an aside, Her Majesty the Queen never actually entered the clubhouse during her time as our Patron. Her signature, which is framed in the library, dates from the time when she visited Henley to christen a new lifeboat, and killed two birds with one stone by coming to Leander. She signed the visitors’ book in the garden.
From the archives, thanks to Robert Treharne Jones
The Magdalen undergraduate who was later to become the Duke of Windsor was elected an Honorary Life Member at a Committee Meeting held on 3 June 1913. It is clear that a letter of invitation had first been sent to the Prince’s equerry. Major the Hon. WJ Cadogan, and the election followed the Prince’s indication that he would ‘be pleased to join the club as an Hon. Life Member’. (Cadogan himself was killed in action at the First Battle of Ypres just 18 months later, 12 November 1914). As Tim Koch’s article confirms, this election took place less than a year after the Prince had first gone up to Magdalen
Following his accession to the throne in 1936, King Edward VIII was invited to become the first Patron of Leander Club and this election was agreed at the AGM held at the Dorchester Hotel on 3 April 1936 (the 50th Anniversary of the 1886 Boat Race). The King’s secretary at the time was the first Lord Wigram (Sid Wigram’s grandfather) who wrote that ‘his Majesty would be graciously pleased to become Patron’ and the Minutes record that ‘the news was greeted with loud cheers’.
The following year, the Committee met on 25 February and agreed to floodlight the clubhouse during Coronation Week. When they next met on 28 May they agreed to write to the Duke of Kent (younger brother of Edward VIII and George VI) to ask if he would honour the club by becoming a Life Member, and the Duke’s letter of acceptance was read to the next meeting on 14 June.
At the 1937 AGM held at the Dorchester on 23 March (it was their habit to hold the club AGM in London the eve of the Boat Race), it was announced that ‘His Majesty had been graciously pleased to honour the club by being its Patron’. The President then gave the toast, but appeared confused (or perhaps prescient) when he said ‘Gentlemen, His Majesty the Queen’!
At a Committee Meeting on 14 December 1952 (by which time meetings had only just been moved to the clubhouse because most committee members lived near Henley) the President informed the Committee that Her Majesty had graciously consented to become Patron of the Club. It was unanimously decided that, following precedent, the Dukes of Windsor, Gloucester, Kent and Edinburgh be offered Hon. Membership. For whatever reason the Duke of Kent decided not to proceed, as the Members Book of 1956 lists only Windsor, Gloucester, and Edinburgh as well as the Crown Prince of Norway (elected in 1951).
Olav V continued his Hon. Membership after ascending the throne in 1957 until his death in 1991 (when his son Harald was elected an Hon. Member). The Duke of Windsor continued his membership until his death in 1972.
The Prince of Wales was elected an Hon. Member in 1974.