Prince William has paid respects to his former polo teacher who was the first-ever female coach of Oxford University's polo team.

The Prince joined friends and family of Claire Tomlinson at a service of remembrance at St Mary's Church, Tetbury - near Prince Charles' Highgrove estate home yesterday.

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Oxford Mail: Prince William attends service of remembrance at St Mary's Church, TetburyPrince William attends service of remembrance at St Mary's Church, Tetbury

Mrs Tomlinson was an England national polo team captain and coach who taught Prince's William and Harry the game at Beaufort in the Cotswolds. 

William joined at least 100 friends and family members who arrived dressed smartly for the occasion.

Some in tweed and flat caps, one woman dressed still in riding jodhpurs as if she had quite literally just stepped off a horse.

Invitees included people taught by Mrs Tomlinson as children, bringing back memories to those who met outside the front of the church in the cold.

Oxford Mail: Prince WilliamPrince William

Mrs Tomlinson was the highest-rated British female polo player in history, the first woman to compete against men in high-goal polo, and the first-ever female coach of Oxford University's polo team.

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She was also the first woman to win the County Cup (1972) and the Queen's Cup (1979), despite having been repeatedly denied entry to high-goal tournaments.

She died aged 77 on January 13.

Despite numerous obstacles she still holds the women's high-goal handicap record to this day.

Taking up polo while at Oxford University, where she studied agricultural economics at Somerville College, she was originally set to become an Olympic fencer.

Mrs Tomlinson, nee Lucas, was the first-ever female player to compete in an Oxford University varsity match - her club even entering her as 'Mr Lucas' to avoid pre-match controversy.


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The first woman ever to compete in high-goal polo, she swept away the rule forbidding women's participation in the sport and became the first to compete on equal terms with men.

The first female captain of the Oxford University polo team, she later would captain England's national polo team, and coach it after retirement from the sport.

She spent her final years as the Chair of Beaufort Polo Club, Gloucestershire, near where she lived.

She is survived by her three children Emma, Mark and Luke - all high-goal polo players or coaches who compete internationally.

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