King Charles coronation prompts pub locals to recall future monarch's 'Great Cockup' moment

  • ITV Border's Kieran Macfadzean visits The Old Crown in Hesket Newmarket as locals remember visits from King Charles to their local days before his coronation

Ahead of the coronation, regulars at a pub in the Lake District are reminiscing about the time the King came to their local.

The then-Prince Charles visited The Old Crown in Hesket Newmarket in 2004 and then again in 2007 much to the delight and continued amusements of pub visitors.

Some remembered competing against the future king in darts or pool, while others remember asking him to "bend the rules" and sign a card for a royal well-wisher who was in hospital during his visit and was left devastated at missing the opportunity to meet him.

One royal wellwisher even says he risked a trip "to the Tower" after he sidelined the Prince's equerry and asked him to break the rules for a touching gesture.

The pub is widely believed to be Britain's first co-operatively owned pub and the King visited to show his support for The Pub is the Hub, an initiative that aims to emphasise pubs as the centre of community life.

During his visits to The Old Crown, the King played darts and pool with regulars, as well as sampled the products of the village brewery.

Chairman of The Old Crown Cooperative Julian Ross remembers thinking it was a practical joke when he was told the future king was planning to visit.

He said: "At the time, we were approached by The Pub is the Hub and at first we thought it was a practical joke when they told us Prince Charles wanted to come.

"When we bought this pub, we had no idea that anyone else was taking any notice of what we were doing and it turns out His Royal Highness was taking notice.

"A shareholder said to me afterwards: 'That was the future king in our little pub'.

"He did deliberately order a pint of Great Cockup which caused a bit of hilarity.

" All the beers are named after the local fells and one of them happens to be called Great Cockup but of course, if you don't come from this area, that's quite an amusing name.

"I couldn't possibly say why he ordered it, but he did."

The beers produced by Hesket Newmarket Brewery are mostly named after local fells, and the King had made his choice during his tour. Credit: ITV News

Linda Watson, who was landlady at the time of the visit, grinned as she remembered making the extra effort to stock his favourite whisky ahead of his visit.

She said: "We'd asked his staff what his favourite whisky was so that we could buy a bottle ahead of his visit.

"When he got to the bar, we had two elderly villagers standing there and one of them told him that he had better drink it because we'd got it specially in for him. There were no heirs and graces, it was just lovely."

Bill Goldsmith was captain of the pub's pool team and played against His Majesty - commenting about his skill in the sport.

He said: "I was pretty good in those days but he was far superior to me. I struck off and he took over, and I never got on for about five shots. I asked if he'd been taught by Jimmy White and he told me I wasn't far off actually."

The King also played a doubles game of darts against team captain Henry Little and the landlady.

But with the landlord in charge of scoring, local rumour suggests that a bit of "creative" mathematics might have contributed to Charles winning the game.

Henry said: "Well he had to win, hadn't he? I think he will make a good king. He cares about the countryside and he cares about people."

After leaving the pub, His Royal Highness popped into the village shop to pick up a slice of John Peel cake to take on his helicopter trip back to London.

The shopkeepers told the then-Prince of Wales they didn't want any money but say that he was adamant he had to pay for his cakes. Credit: ITV News

The villagers of Hesket Newmarket were well-behaved during the royal visits - with one exception.

One local, Bill Goldsmith, asked the Prince's equerry if he could get His Highness to sign a get-well-soon card for a woman who was sadly missing the chance to meet the royal as she had taken a fall the previous day and was in hospital.

After being told that this was strictly against protocol, Mr Goldsmith took matters into his own hands and approached King Charles himself.

He said: "I told him the story and he got his fountain pen out and he gave a brilliant signature and a remark for her to get better soon.

"I took it to the hospital and the nurses said she was showing all the nurses and it brought her to life. I'm glad I did it - but I hope I don't finish in the tower."

The coronation of King Charles will take place on Saturday 6 May.

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