Birth of royal babies made Harry famous worldwide

ODDS ON Retired bookmaker Harry Garcia of North End with one of his Jubilee mugs. Picture: Paul Jacobs (132003-1)
ODDS ON Retired bookmaker Harry Garcia of North End with one of his Jubilee mugs. Picture: Paul Jacobs (132003-1)

Shopping assistance scheme in Portsmouth to close down

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WITH the country awaiting the arrival of the royal baby, everyone is guessing the gender, weight and name.

But one man has done this all before.

Harry Garcia owned G G Bookmakers in North End, Portsmouth, and in 1964 his was the first bookmaker in Britain to take bets on the four royal babies set to be born in that year.

Princess Alexandra, the Queen, Princess Margaret and the Duchess of Kent were all due to give birth.

James Ogilvy was born at the end of February, Prince Edward a few days later in March, Lady Helen Windsor in April and finally, Lady Sarah Chatto in May.

Harry gave people in Portsmouth the chance to bet on their names.

The 88-year-old, from Kirby Road, North End, said: ‘I thought it was a good opportunity for people to have some fun.

‘I thought it was a great idea and how often does something like this happen?

‘I don’t think we will ever have four members of the royal family due to have children in a few months of each other.

‘It was a fantastic opportunity and I had fun picking the names in which we had a wide range, some traditional, some very strange.’

Harry did extensive work looking into the history of the royal family to see which names were popular.

He added: ‘I spent hours down the old library near Guildhall Square.

‘I used to go in there and look at all the names of the royal family.

‘We came up with the normal and more traditional names like George, Edward and John. And then for the girls it was Margaret and Elizabeth.

‘But then we decided to have some fun and we went for extreme names.

‘These included names like Popeye which was about 10,000-1.’

Harry’s offer for customers to bet on all four names of the royal babies got him worldwide attention.

Bets from as far as Australia and America came in and he was even featured on Walter Cronkite’s evening news programme on CBS.

The popular American television station flew to Portsmouth to interview him.

He said: ‘I couldn’t believe it when I found out it was so big around the world.

‘It put us on the map.’