Sailor Dennis finds family connection with Royal bride

EYES RIGHT Sailors rehearse their duties for the royal wedding at HMS Collingwood.  Inset: AB Dennis Brown
EYES RIGHT Sailors rehearse their duties for the royal wedding at HMS Collingwood. Inset: AB Dennis Brown
Arrival of new aircraft carrier 
HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth Naval 
Base.

Picture: Neil Marshall

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A ROYAL Navy sailor who will play a major role at the royal wedding has discovered he is related to Kate Middleton.

Able Seaman Dennis Brown is among eight sailors who will form a 24-strong military guard of honour at Westminster Abbey on Friday when Prince William and his bride emerge as a married couple for the first time.

FAMILY AB Dennis Brown

FAMILY AB Dennis Brown

But until two weeks ago he had no idea he was related to the soon-to-be princess.

He found out from his cousin Alison Ivison from Wallington, near Fareham, who made the discovery while researching their family tree.

‘It’s such a surprise,’ said Dennis, a 39-year-old naval reservist who works in telecommunications.

‘I volunteered to be a part of the Royal Wedding and when I was chosen to line the path from Westminster Abbey it was a real honour. But I had no idea that I was related to the bride. It’s just by chance that I’m playing a part in her big day.’

Both Alison and Dennis are third cousins with Miss Middleton because they share a great-great-grandfather, Theophilus Benjamin Chandler.

Alison, 50, said: ‘I’ve been getting in to doing my family tree since the beginning of the year but I got stuck when I came across Miles Tugwell Chandler, my great-great-great grandfather.

‘I thought it’s a pretty unusual name so I Googled it and Kate Middleton’s family tree came up.

‘I thought there had been a mistake at first but it wasn’t.

‘It’s surreal, especially because Dennis will be there at Westminster Abbey on the day.’

The connection came to light during a dress rehearsal for the navy’s role in the royal wedding at HMS Collingwood, Fareham, yesterday.

A total of 120 sailors who will line the capital’s streets have been rehearsing during the Easter period, along with the Royal Marines Band Collingwood, who will entertain crowds in Bridge Street near Parliament Square.

HMS Collingwood’s Warrant Officer Paul Barker, who lives in Southwick, was charged with drilling the sailors and marines.

The 48-year-old said: ‘It’s been hard work. The biggest challenge was getting all these people together over Easter. But we’re looking pretty good now. I think we’re ready. I’m very proud of taking charge of the naval team for this event.

‘It’s a great honour. I retire next year after 34 years so this will be a big tick in the box for me.’

‘Down you go Wales, 10 press-ups...’

NAVAL colleagues recalled Prince William’s time serving in HMS Iron Duke in 2008.

Leading Physical Trainer Gavin Rees, 26, said he was surprised to have been picked to line the path of Westminster Abbey on Friday after he repeatedly had to discipline the Prince for being late to circuit training on the Portsmouth-based warship.

He said: ‘The first time I had contact with William I gave him 10 press-ups for being late. I said to him ‘‘Down you go, Wales, 10 press-ups’’ and he did them.

‘He turned up late three times so I kept giving him 10 press-ups.

‘He was all right and he just did them. He was just getting used to punctuality in the navy.’