Royals salute king of car parks
THE Royal Family joined showbiz royalty yesterday to honour the king of car parks – and one of the Queen’s staunchest supporters.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and Prince Michael of Kent were at a thanksgiving service for
Sir Donald Gosling, who campaigned for a new royal yacht to replace Britannia.
The Second World War veteran, who died in September aged 90, ran National Car Parks and gave £100million to mainly naval charities.
He was made a Vice Admiral of the UK and lent his £50million yacht Leander to the Queen for her 2012 Diamond Jubilee tour after Britannia was decommissioned in 1997.
Celebrities at the Westminster Abbey service included Jimmy Tarbuck, who read a tribute, Dame Shirley Bassey and Riverdance creator Michael Flatley. Sir Bruce Forsyth’s widow, Lady Wilnelia, and singer Elaine Paige also attended.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr David Hoyle, said: “We give honour to a man who delighted to serve the Crown.”
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, was among those who gave a Bible reading.
The Queen, who was meeting diplomats at Buckingham Palace, was represented by former first sea lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas. Sir Donald, who named his yacht after light cruiser HMS Leander, on which he served in the Mediterranean during the war, was well known for supporting naval personnel and their families.
He also spent £25million on saving HMS Victory from being sold to a US theme park.
After the war, he became a surveyor with Westminster City Council, where he met fellow ex-serviceman and business partner Ronald Hobson.
In October 1948, the pair bought a bomb site in Holborn, central London, and turned it into their first car park.
In 1959, they took over National Car Parks and created 500 sites – at one point forming about 70 per cent of the UK market. They sold the business to a US firm for £801million in 1998. Sir Donald made £290million from the deal.
The royalist was outraged at the decision to decommission Britannia and tried in vain to secure a deal to replace it.
Speaking about loaning his yacht to the Queen, he said: “I wouldn’t expect a fee for something that is on behalf of the nation.”
Charles in uniform at yesterday’s service Camilla, top, and Edward and Sophie A solemn Prince William arrives at Abbey
Dame Shirley Bassey pays her respects
Royal yacht campaign...Sir Donald
Dancer Michael Flatley
Lady Wilnelia Forsyth
Singer Elaine Paige