Duke of Sussex teases Australian cricket star at royal garden party

The Duke of Sussex could not resist stoking the rivalry between England and Australia ahead of the Cricket World Cup when the team captains met at Buckingham Palace.

Harry jokingly needled Australia’s captain Aaron Finch, asking him: “You’re getting on a bit now, aren’t you? How long have you been playing?” – making the batsman laugh.

The Queen also met the group of world-class bowlers, batters and all-rounders who later joined a palace garden party ahead of the launch of the much-anticipated global cricket event being staged by England.

Harry will be at the Oval on Thursday to watch England Captain Eoin Morgan take on South Africa in one of the World Cup’s opening matches.

The home side are ranked as world number one after four solid years on an upward trajectory, and Morgan said before arriving at the palace they have the chance to give their sport a once-in-a-lifetime lift over the next six weeks.

When the Queen met West Indies captain Jason Holder she was dwarfed by the all-rounder who stands 6ft 7.5in tall, but joked she had someone taller in her household.

The duke tested the mood of the players asking them if they were confident and who was the favourite, and told the Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne: “Enjoy it, if you’re not going to enjoy it you might as well not be here.”

Outside, garden party guests braved wet and cold conditions that had been predicted – but they still seemed to enjoy the occasion.

The Queen met Margaret Baxter, 96, who had sent the monarch a picture from around 1945 when the then Princess Elizabeth and Wartime leader Winston Churchill visited Portsmouth.

Mrs Baxter, from Needham in Suffolk, is pictured in the black and white image in her Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform – a unit the Queen also joined towards the end of the war.

She joked: “I met her in my role as subaltern, I just didn’t say anything I was petrified – it was amazing actually.”

Among the royal guests at the garden party were Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Later, the captains attended the Cricket World Cup spectacular opening party that was staged in the Mall and featured live music, sport and entertainment.

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