Rachel Blount writes about a wide variety of sports subjects, including Olympic sports, women's sports and social issues that intersect with the games we watch and play. She has been at the Star Tribune for 20 years, covering everything from hockey to horse racing to seven Olympic Games. An Iowa native, she holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Missouri and is married to fellow sportswriter Pat Borzi.

Brush with royalty

Posted by: Rachel Blount Updated: August 1, 2012 - 8:23 AM

A trip to Greenwich Park on Tuesday yielded lots of fun surprises. It's a lovely town, full of history and beautiful old buildings. It's been full of royalty lately, too, as Zara Phillips--daughter of Princess Anne and granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth--competed in eventing for the British team.

It was speculated that this would be a prime spot for royal-watchers. On Monday, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Princess Anne were among those who came out to see Phillips compete in the cross-country portion of the three-day event. They returned Tuesday with Prince Charles's wife, Camilla, to watch the Brits take silver with a fine performance in the final part of the event, stadium jumping.

I was outside the arena when the final riders went, because I wanted to see how all the people in the park would react. When the final British rider competed, the place went dead silent. Then it erupted into applause, as the Brits put themselves in position for team silver. They went wild again after the final rider, a German, finished.

Suddenly, a horde of photographers ran to where I was standing. I didn't immediately realize what was happening, but they were clearly seasoned royal-followers. Sure enough, William, Kate and Harry came striding out of the stadium surrounded by their security detail. When they walked 15 feet in front of me, I was too stunned to think to pull out the cell phone and snap a photo.

Not that I need one to remember it by. It was one of those serendipitous Olympic moments, the kind that just materializes before you know it and stays with you forever. This will be a good cocktail-party story for a while.

Things were hopping outside the venue, too. Greenwich is having a town festival in conjunction with the Olympics, and it hung a huge TV screen on one of the classic buildings of the Old Royal Naval College next to the jumping stadium. Lots of people were hanging out there Tuesday, sitting in canvas deck chairs and watching the equestrian competition. Here are some photos.

 

 

    

 

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