02 November 2022

King makes a splash with Olympic stars at palace reception

02 November 2022

The King joked about the risk of “belly flops” with champion diver Tom Daley and his sporting partner during a Buckingham Palace reception celebrating the achievements of Olympic and Paralympic medallists.

Sporting stars who won gold, silver and bronze at Tokyo 2020 and the Beijing 2022 Winter Games were welcomed by Charles and the Queen Consort.

The monarch and his wife were joined by the Earl of Wessex, who is the patron of the British Paralympic Association, and the Princess Royal, president of the British Olympic Association, and the Duke of Gloucester.

The gathering of the senior royals was marked by a photograph of the group which was rereleased after the reception attended by around 150 sporting stars.

Daley, who won gold in Tokyo in the men’s synchronised 10m platform with diving partner Matty Lee, was attending his fourth Olympic reception at the palace and reminisced how the Queen revealed maybe she should have been a gymnast, due to her short stature.

Lee said about their chat with the King: “We were talking about how you can belly flop and making a splash.

“We were talking about how you can belly flop and making a splash.

“We chatted about how we punch a hole in the water, to make no splash, and I said if we get it wrong it can hurt a lot.”

“And he said ‘I don’t know how you do that’, it’s just crazy to have a conversation with the King.

“I did not think I would be talking about belly flops on a Wednesday night with the King.”

Among the guests were Dame Sarah Storey won three gold medals at Tokyo 2020 in cycling events, taking her tally of Paralympic golds to 17 and making her the most successful British Paralympian.

The postponement of Tokyo 2020 to the summer of 2021 meant a short six-month gap to the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, where Team GB’s curlers did exceptionally well.

Eve Muirhead led the women’s curling team of Vicky Wright, Jen Dodds and Hailey Duff to gold, and the foursome were at the palace, while Team GB men won silver.

Daley said: “It’s always so surreal to walk into the palace, it feels such a huge privilege to walk into a building with such history, the amount of people who have been in here before.”

Recalling a previous Olympic reception hosted by the late Queen, the diver added: “I had a conversation with Her Majesty about how she would make such a great gymnast because she was so small.

“She noticed I was with some of the divers and gymnasts and noticed we were smaller then the other athletes.

“And I said ‘the smaller you are the faster you spin’ and she said ‘maybe I should have been a gymnast’ and I was like ‘well you’re the Queen’.”

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