On a warm summer day, two men in tennis whites walked onto Wimbledon’s No 2 Court, wooden rackets under their arms. A small, dark-haired woman with a fox fur around her neck smiled encouragingly from the stands, trying to hide her anxiety.
For the younger of the two men was her husband Albert, the Duke of York, and she knew how desperately nervous he was and how badly he might take defeat.
To her anguish, she watched Albert (or Bertie, as he was better known) and his doubles partner lose game after game to their opponents, a pair of veteran Wimbledon champions. The final score was a resounding 1-6, 3-6, 2-6 defeat.
And yet despite losing, the fact that Bertie had taken part in such a public spectacle was a victory in itself for the still-awkward 30-year-old, whom some royal courtiers had once dismissed as mentally defective because of his stammer.
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