We’re all in this together (the Royal Box)

While unions put the final touches to their plans, the great and good had more pressing matters to attend to
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Indy Politics

There was Sir Michael Caine, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, a smattering of CEOs and no shortage of sports-world insiders in the Royal Box on Centre Court yesterday. Oh, and a couple of figures taking a break from the grind of fixing Britain's economic woes as the nation faced its most widespread strikes for generations.

"We're all in this together," the Chancellor might have muttered to the Governor of the Bank of England, sitting a few places to his left. "Me, you, and the Duke of Kent."

Sir Mervyn King, a member of several committees at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, is a regular in the finest seats in the house. His companion on the front row seemed a little less ebullient than usual at David Cameron's right-hand side at Prime Minister's Questions at lunchtime. It was gone 12.30pm by the time the session came to a close, and Roger Federer was due on at 1pm. So late, in fact, was he that a mysterious interloper was spotted in the Chancellor's seat for the first 90 minutes or so. It didn't last.

Keeping him company was his father, Sir Peter Osborne and Lord Bell, the man credited with three successful election campaigns for Margaret Thatcher. Paul Deighton, now chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and a former partner at Goldman Sachs, could have helped the economists with the sudoku, perhaps provided by Times editor James Harding, or former Telegraph editor Max Hastings. A glamorous bunch, but perhaps not as glamorous as the woman in the very big dark glasses, US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and Emma Soames, editor at large of Saga magazine. But the day's leading lady, Pippa Middleton, was not in the Royal Box (in-law connections aren't the way the Royal Box invitations work, it seems).

Britain's last great hope Andy Murray (there really is no plan B), who played after Federer, seemed to instigate something of a walkout of his own. Centre Court was only around a quarter full when the Scot got under way. Slowly the crowds around the court returned, among them some famous faces: Lewis Hamilton, Trevor McDonald and the Middletons. But by halfway through the second set, they had disappeared.

Mr Osborne, however, dutifully stuck it out to the end. It's all part of the job.