Sailor Geoff meets the Queen as news of wedding breaks

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It was the talk of the nation and sailor Geoff Holt was at the centre of it.

Mr Holt, from Shedfield, near Fareham, was the first person to see the Queen after news broke at Windsor Castle that Prince William and Kate Middleton were engaged.

He was at the castle to be made an MBE for his services to disabled sailing.

And although the Queen is reported to be delighted at the prospect of a royal wedding, Mr Holt, 44, decided not to mention it when he was presented to her.

He said: 'There were quite a few of us there to receive our honours and we were all being kept in a side room before being taken through.

'Just as I was going to go through to the Queen, someone from the royal staff came running in and announced that Prince William was engaged to Kate Middleton.

'Even they hadn't known anything about it.

'It was literally right as I was going in and I thought about mentioning it to the Queen, but I thought it would be a bit cheesy, so I decided not to in the end.'

However, the engagement had the mood at the castle buzzing and Mr Holt added: 'Of course everyone up here has been talking about it, and it's something to lift the gloom, isn't it?'

Mr Holt, a quadriplegic, holds several disabled sailing records, including being the first to sail unassisted across the Atlantic.

But he added: 'I'm particularly proud that my citation says I'm being recognised for my service to disabled sailing.

'I've given up a large percentage of my life to it, so to be recognised for it is wonderful. I don't do this for honours, but it is nice.'

Mr Holt has met Princess Anne several times as she is patron of the disabled sailing charity, Sailability.

'We talked a bit about disabled sailing and her daughter and how helpful she has been.

'It was all over in a flash.'

His wife Elaine and son Tim were at the castle to see Mr Holt receive the honour.