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London 2012: Royal Visit Crowns Badminton’s First Day at London 2012

Badminton launched its sixth appearance at the Olympic Games in truly royal fashion today, hosting HRH Prince of Wales at the historic Wembley Arena.

Still reveling in the glory of being one of three traditional British sports showcased in Friday night’s Opening Ceremony, the racket-and-shuttlecock duel again took centrestage, privileged to be on Prince Charles’ agenda on the first official day of action in the London 2012 Olympics.

Arriving during the busy luncheon interval, he was greeted by President of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Dr Kang Young Joong (pictured right) before meeting LOCOG officials and chatting with shuttlers from three Commonwealth nations – Australia, Canada and, of course, Great Britain – about their Olympic experience and revealing that he was a badminton enthusiast, having played it in the past.

“This was unexpected but exciting. I enjoyed meeting him. It’s awesome that he’s come out to watch badminton,” said Canadian Women’s Doubles player, Alex Bruce, slated to take the court in the night session with her partner, Michelle Li.

Britain’s badminton team leader, Andy Allford, and Men’s Singles specialist, Rajiv Ouseph, were also thrilled to have royalty present.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s brilliant he’s come along to badminton,” declared Allford, while Ouseph was sought out by television media for interviews.

The Prince, who is also the Duke of Cornwall, then visited the Olympic Family Lounge after which he took his seat in the smartly-appointed, three-court venue to absorb some enthralling post-lunch battles, including a Women’s Singles match involving a British player. He would certainly have been pleased with what he saw from hometown contender, Susan Egelstaff, as she shook off a sluggish start to seize the first game from Slovenia’s Maja Tvrdy comfortably 21-15.

“I spotted him when I was warming up but I wasn’t nervous. I knew he was coming and my teammates were teasing me, asking if I’m going to curtsy,” said Scotland-born Egelstaff laughing, after breezing through the second game 21-10.

Later in the afternoon, another dignitary – Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and his wife, Jenni Haukio – also attended badminton to watch their country’s Anu Nieminen in her first group-stage fixture. 34-year-old Nienimen beat Mexico's Victoria Montero in straight games 21-12 21-18 registering her first Olympics' victory in her fourth participation of the Games!

HRH Prince of Wales (centre) takes in badminton action at Wembley Arena today. Seated with him (left to right) are Mrs. Kang; President of Badminton World Federation Dr. Kang Young Joong; BWF Vice President – Olympic Relations Gregory Verpoorten; and Badminton England Chief Executive Adrian Christie. 

HRH Prince Charles shaking hands with BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund outside the Olympic Family Lounge.

HRH Prince Charles speaking with Great Britain's London-born player, Rajiv Ouseph.

HRH Prince Charles also met with players from Commonwealth countries. Here he chats with Australia's Glenn Warfe.

HRH Prince Charles also spoke with the Canadian badminton contingent.

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and his wife Jenni Haukio watching Anu Nieniman's first group match.

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