The most common question being asked on Day 1 of Wimbledon wasn’t whether Roger Federer would retain his crown or if the price of a punnet of strawberries and cream had broken through the £10 barrier. Most conjecture focused around the issue of whether or not Andy Murray would bow to the Royal Box when Queen Elizabeth II ends a 33 year absence from the All England Club’s Championships on Thursday. The conjecture may of course be purely hypothetical if Murray loses in his opening round match to Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic, scheduled for the second day of the tournament. But the matter of whether or not the Scot is a patriotic Royalist was front page news in most of the British newspapers as Murray prepared in another bid to become the first home grown Men’s singles Champion since Fred Perry in 1936. “Andy Murray is still dithering about one aspect of his Wimbledon strategy - whether to bow to the Queen,” said the Daily Mail. Meanwhile the staunchly conservative Daily Telegraph declared: “One of the great benefits of a free country is the freedom to criticize it – and Andy Murray is utterly free to think whatever he wants about the Queen.”
The tradition of bowing or curtseying to the Royal Box on Centre Court ended in 2003. But since the halcyon days of Princess Diana being a regular attendee of the Championships, lower profile members of the British royal family such as the Duke of Kent or Duchess of Gloucester have filled the front row seats.
But with players not being obliged to show the usual gesture of respect towards the monarch, her subjects worldwide will be watching closely to see who adheres to traditional protocol.
A Wimbledon spokesman said players would be asked whether they would like to bow or curtsey, but there will not be any hard and fast orders.
“I'll have to wait and see,” said Murray. “It should be personal preference,' he said. 'I'll have a chat with the guys. I don't want to be bowing and the person I'm playing with walks straight past - or the other way around. You obviously have to have an agreement before you go on.”