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couple at wimbledon © Instagram

What it's really like to sit in Wimbledon's Royal Box: special entrance, lavish lunches and meeting Princess Kate

Jazz singer Natalie Rushdie spoke to us about her Wimbledon experience in 2023 with husband Zafar

Content Writer
July 4, 2024
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The tennis season is in full swing! In the wake of The Queen's Club Championships, SW19 fans rejoiced earlier this week when the prestigious tournament Wimbledon returned to our screens in all its green and purple glory.

World-class tennis, strawberries and suncream aside, the sporting event is renowned for its royal guestlist, with the late Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Camilla and Princess Kate all making regular appearances over the years.

Kate Middleton with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Pippa Middleton in the Royal Box on Centre Court during day twelve of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships© Getty Images
Kate with Meghan Markle and sister Pippa Middleton in the Royal Box on Centre Court back in 2019

Royal attendees and a handful of lucky guests, arguably have the best seats in the house thanks to the coveted Royal Box which sits at the south end of Centre Court.

According to the official Wimbledon website, the Royal Box is used for friends and guests of Wimbledon, which includes "British and overseas royal families, heads of government, people from the world of tennis, commercial partners, British Armed Forces, prominent media organisations, supporters of tennis and other walks of life".

Ahead of the sporting action, we spoke to jazz singer Natalie Rushdie who was fortunate enough to nab a seat in the Royal Box alongside her husband Zafar in 2023. Keep scrolling to discover what it's really like to mingle with royalty…

kate-middleton-roger-federer© Getty Images
Natalie was in the company of Princess Kate and Roger Federer

Brushing shoulders with royalty

Royal Box guests are invited to a sit-down lunch before the tennis kicks off. When Natalie, 37, attended last year, she was in the company of Princess Catherine, legendary Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, and Prince Michael of Kent - a cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Describing the moment Kate and Roger entered the dining room, Natalie shared: "Roger Federer and Princess Catherine came in last, and the whole room went silent when she came in. She's just so beautiful in real life… Calm, just so refined. She came in, she said hello to everyone."

person chatting to princess kate in royal box at tennis tournament© Instagram
Natalie spoke to Princess Kate during her time in the Royal Box

Natalie also had the chance to chat with Kate during which time she thanked the Prince and Princess of Wales for their continued support in the wake of her charity song in honour of the late Dame Deborah James.

Tennis players and their famous exes

Grigor Dimitrov and Nicole Scherzinger

The tennis player started dating the Pussycat Dolls singer in late 2015 and confirmed the relationship a year later. However, the couple's hectic schedules made it difficult to spend time together and they parted ways in 2019. 

Serena Williams and Drake

Tennis queen Serena and Canadian rapper Drake were rumoured to have had an on-and-off relationship from 2011 to 2015. They first met at a charity tennis tournament in 2011 and began dating shortly after. 

Naomi Osaka and Cordae

The Japanese tennis player has been romantically linked to rapper Cordae since 2019, and in July 2023, they welcomed a baby girl named Shai. However, it seems the couple have sparked split rumours with the tennis star removing all traces of Cordae from her Instagram page. 

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy

This sports couple started dating in 2010 and actually got engaged three years later. In 2014, Rory was said to have called things off in a brief three-minute phone call to Caroline after they sent their wedding invites. Caroline has since married American basketball player David Lee. 

Andy Roddick and Mandy Moore

The American star dated actress Mandy Moore in the early 2000s before he married wife Brooklyn Decker. They met on the set of the rom-com How to Deal in 2003. One year after the tennis champion took home the U.S. Open championship title, the former couple called it quits in 2004. 

Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields

The Hollywood star was married to former world number one tennis player Andre Agassi from 1997 until 1999, when they split largely because of his addiction to crystal meth. They dated for four years before they wed.

Recalling their exchange, Natalie told us: "I went up to her. I was so nervous. I'm never nervous meeting anyone, but she's really so beautiful in real life. I went over to her, and I just thanked her and William for her support. We spoke about the single, and she asked how it was going and how it came about."

Gushing about the mother-of-three's regal charm, she went on to say: "There's very much star quality about her. There's a sparkle when she enters the room. Everyone genuinely is in awe of her. She's incredibly beautiful and refined… I don't know what I expected… but it was even more so in real life."

WATCH: Princess Kate's best Wimbledon fashion moments

Natalie added: "She's so kind, takes the time to speak to everyone, and very much makes everyone feel at ease."

Musing on her afternoon tea with Prince Michael of Kent, Natalie divulged: "The afternoon tea is on the balcony. We were very lucky that Prince Michael of Kent invited us to join him on his table with Lady Gabriella and her late husband, Thomas Kingston, as we are friends.

table laid with white table cloth and vase of flowers© Instagram
The dining experience is a lavish affair

"We had a wonderful time, and we had a wonderful afternoon. It was his birthday on that day so we had coffee cakes to celebrate his birthday. It was lovely and very relaxed. The Prince was telling me about different music events he'd been to as a child and as a teenager, which was very funny… You become like Cinderella. It all stops, and then you're just a normal person."

Hollywood treatment

The Wimbledon Royal Box experience is often shrouded in mystery… Attendees are restricted from taking certain photos and not much is known about the structure of the day.

"You go for a separate entrance. You go underneath into a car park, and you drive into Wimbledon, and the grounds are massive," Natalie revealed. "And so you drive in these and then you drive to basically a lift, and then you come up on this lift, and it comes out in the Royal Box, and it's absolutely beautiful."

couple posing in front of trophy cabinet© Instagram
The pair posing in front of the trophy cabinet

In terms of the structure of the day, Royal Box guests are treated to the below:

- Welcome drinks and coffee are served on the balcony before the tennis action kicks off

- An opportunity to take photos in the Royal Box before others arrive

- Lunch is served

- Afternoon tea is served on the balcony

- Back to the Royal Box for more tennis action

Food & Drink

Upon arrival, guests are served "special Wimbledon chocolates" with their coffee. Lunch is a delicious spread teeming with an array of hot and cold dishes including the likes of Halibut, Galloway beef, asparagus and soft poached egg tart and Cornish lobster tail.

Meanwhile, pudding is a British affair with strawberries and cream taking pride of place on the menu. Peach crémeux and a selection of cheeses also feature.

Wimbledon keepsakes

couple in royal box at wimbledon© Instagram
Natalie attended Wimbledon in 2023 with her husband Zafar

Aside from the Wimbledon chocolates, Royal Box guests are treated to a special photograph which is taken during the first three sets.

Sharing a glimpse inside this tradition, Natalie told us: "You're told basically that you're going to be photographed in the first three sets which you get to take away with you. I don't remember getting a goodie bag, but you get a special photograph and the programme."

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