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NEWSDESK

PALMA
NEARLY two hundred friends, family, crew and colleagues, including King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia accompanied by Princesses Elena and Cristina attended a memorial service yesterday at Les Jardines de Repos at Marratxi for the late Richard Cross – who for over 35 years had been Captain of the King's yacht, Fortuna. During the ceremony Paul Simon's “Bridge over Troubled Water” was played to the large congregation which had gathered from many parts of the world to pay their respects.

In his address the Anglican Chaplain, Father Robert Ellis described how there must have been many memories of appreciation and friendship. He described Richard's life as one lived within an aura of discretion and service. Born in Winchester he was by craft an aeronautical engineer and was someone who had worked on one of the 20th Century's most imaginative projects, Concorde. “But”, he said “the world beyond Bristol beckoned him and he was determined to see the world” and that is how he came to Majorca where he stayed for the rest of his life. Friends and colleagues have described how in 1972 he both met his Swedish wife, Maud, and started working for the then His Royal Highness Prince Juan Carlos and he never really worked for anyone else ever again. He was a mechanical genius when it came to engines, he supervised the building of boats for the king for over 35 years but for him work and pleasure was one and the same thing.

On Fortuna, as Captain, he had an extremely close connection and relationship with his crew, it was almost a mutual admiration society – he called them “his boys”, “los chavalles” even though some of them were older than he was! He adored them and they adored him as well. As a result he held very lightly to rank – he just didn't need to, his authority was self authenticating.

His aim in his professional life was quite simple. It was to make Fortuna as problem free and pleasurable as possible for the Royal Family, their guests and the crew. Richard Cross was the honoured recipient of the White Cross Naval Merit. It meant a lot to him and hanging on one of the walls in his home is the plaque which accompanies the medal.

The words of the citation concluded the simple but dignified short ceremony – “We wish you fair winds and following seas.”