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Rocketmakers meet Prince Charles

By Ned Vaught
21st Jul 2018
Richard and Keith meet Prince Charles

Earlier this week, Rocketmakers CEO Richard Godfrey and CTO Keith Walker attended a champagne reception with HRH the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace.

The two Rocketmakers founders received invitations for the event following the news that Rocketmakers had been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) on 21 April.

The annual Queen’s Award reception is always attended by a senior member of the Royal Family, and this year HRH Prince Charles was there to greet this year’s winners.

If the shoe falls apart, wear it

The reception fell on one of the hottest days of the year, and Richard and Keith decided to walk to Buckingham Palace across Hyde Park for the final leg of their journey. On the way, the glue holding the sole of Richard’s right shoe melted. The sole stayed on, but just barely, and made a loud flopping noise with every step.

Such challenges are no problem for the intrepid Rocketmakers leadership, however, so they pressed on towards the palace to meet the Heir Apparent.

The reception began in a courtyard, where Richard and Keith ran into the founders of Bristol-based Ultrahaptics, who this year also won a Queen’s Award.

The gathering eventually moved indoors, into Buckingham Palace’s large Ballroom, which also regularly serves as the place where investitures are bestowed by the Queen.

Richard and Keith found a spot near the middle, and because of the loud noise Richard’s shoe made whenever they moved, they remained in the same spot.

Here comes the Prince!

After the Queen’s Award recipients were all gathered in the Ballroom, Prince Charles entered with a phalanx of handlers making its way through the crowd ahead of him.

The handlers arranged who exactly Prince Charles would speak to, and Keith and Richard heard them tell someone just ahead of them that they would be the last person the Prince would greet. Richard and Keith felt slightly disappointed not to get to speak to Prince Charles, but were still enjoying the reception very much.

Prince Charles completely ignored the instructions of his handlers, however, and moved free range through the crowd speaking to whoever he wanted to without any advance preparation. This included a stop to chat with our CEO and CTO, much to their surprise.

Richard briefly told the Prince about PDMS, the system used by British Olympic and Paralympic athletes which won Rocketmakers the Queen’s Award, and then told him they were based in Bath, not far from the Duchy of Cornwall property in Newton St Lowe.

“He was very interested in what we were doing,” Richard explained, “but what I remember most was the strength of his handshake. He has a really strong grip!”

Richard was also very pleased that during his brush with Royalty he successfully concealed his flopping shoe.

Keith and Richard were back at their desks in Bath the following day, working on their next cutting-edge technological development. And Richard bought a new pair of shoes.

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