Roy­als salute king of car parks

Daily Express - - News - By Richard Palmer Royal Cor­re­spon­dent

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

Pic­tures: JONATHAN BUCK­MAS­TER

Dancer Michael Flat­ley

Trib­ute...Jimmy Tar­buck

Lady Wil­nelia Forsyth

Singer Elaine Paige

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