There has been a Royal Box on Centre Court since 1922. What is it, how are guests selected for invitation and what will the guests experience ?
History of the Royal Box
British royalty has been associated with the Championships since 1907 when the Prince of Wales, accompanied by Princess Mary visited the Worple Road grounds. On arrival the Royal pair were escorted to the Committee Box which had been temporarily fitted out as a Royal Box.
Before leaving the grounds that day the Prince was offered the Presidency of the All England and Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) which he accepted. The Prince then donated a challenge trophy to the Club. The Committee Box was adapted for Royal visits on an as required basis.
The Prince of Wales remained as President until he acceded to the throne. As King George V, the former Prince of Wales, became the Patron of the Club and this position has been maintained by successive monarchs and senior members of the Royal Family.
There has been a Royal Box at the south end of Centre Court since the opening of the Church Road Grounds in 1922. In 2002 the Royal Box was rebuilt as part of the work carried out on the Clubhouse and south end of the Centre Court.
How are guests selected for invitation to the Royal Box?
The Royal Box has 74 seats. The seats are dark green Lloyd Loom wicker chairs with padded seating. Access to the Royal Box is via the Clubhouse and is guarded by uniformed members of the armed services.
The Royal Box is used to entertain members of the Royal Family, members of overseas Royal Families and guests of the AELTC. Guests have included heads of government, commercial partners as well as prominent people from the world of sport and entertainment.
Invitations to the Royal Box are issued by the Chairman of the AELTC taking into consideration suggestions made by the Lawn Tennis Association and the Committee in charge of organising the Championship.
Past guests have included Tom Cruise, Priyanka Chopra, Dame Maggie Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch, Billie Jean King and Bjorn Borg, Twiggy, Anna Wintour, Sir Michael Parkinson and Dame Shirley Bassey
In 2021 Covid-19 frontline workers were honoured with an invitation to the Royal Box. On the first day of the Championships before play commenced on Centre Court, spectators paid tribute with a standing ovation for the renowned Oxford University professor Sarah Gilbert.
Also in the Royal Box on the first Monday was Hannah Ingram-Moore, the daughter of late Captain Tom Moore, who raised almost £33 million for NHS workers by walking around his garden with the help of a frame.
There is a special entrance at the Championships with dedicated parking, so Royal Box guests can be ushered quickly and directly into the Clubhouse area.
Royal Box guests are invited to lunch, afternoon tea and drinks in the Clubhouse.
Pre-lunch drinks are served from 11am on the balcony and lunch at 11.30 so that guests are able to finish lunch before the tennis starts on Centre Court (13.30 except the finals week-end when play starts at 14.00). A traditional afternoon tea is served at 15.45.
Royal Box guests receive a leather amenity bag typically in Championship colours and embossed with the Wimbledon logo and year of attendance. The amenity bag includes various items such as branded hand cream, sun lotion, refresher wipes, lip balm, a box of mints and an Evian (a sponsor of the Wimbledon Tournament) face spray.
Royal Box guests are expected to adhere to a strict dress code. Gentlemen are required to dress in a lounge suit or tailored jacket, shirt, tie, trousers and dress shoes.
Ladies are expected to dress to a similar standard. Ladies are asked not to wear hats in case they obscure the vision of those seated behind them. The dress code is taken very seriously and in 2015, Lewis Hamilton was reportedly denied entry to the Royal Box for not wearing a jacket and tie.