Meet great-grandfather, 73, who posed with the Princess of Wales

Meet the man who cuddled Kate: Former wrestler, 73 – who was Giant Haystacks’ tag partner – reveals princess approached HIM for a hug following recent cancer battle that left him hours from death

  • EXCLUSIVE: Kate broke royal protocol when she reached out to Rick Leake on a walkabout in Scarborough 
  • The princess put her arm around his shoulder after discovering he had been seriously ill with throat cancer 
  • She held the pose and smiled as his daughter Joanne took a photo that he will cherish for the rest of his life 
  • Mr Leake, 73, told Mailonline: ‘[Kate] will never know how much it meant to have her reach out to me that way.’

A grandfather has told how a moment of kindness from the Princess of Wales brought joy back into his life after months fighting an aggressive cancer that saw him hours from death.

Kate, 40, broke royal protocol when she reached out to Rick Leake during a walkabout in Scarborough, and put her arm around his shoulder after discovering he had been seriously ill with throat cancer.

The royal mother-of-three – who visited the North Yorkshire resort town with her husband Prince William, 40, yesterday – held the pose and smiled as his daughter Joanne took a photograph that he will cherish for the rest of his life.

According to the Royal Family’s website there are ‘no obligatory codes of behaviour’ when meeting a member of the Royal Family, but there’s an unwritten rule that you shouldn’t go beyond a handshake. However, the younger generation of royals have often shown they’re more open to sharing a hug and a selfie with well-wishers. 

An emotional Mr Leake, 73, told Mailonline: ‘She will never know how much it meant to have her reach out to me that way, I will never forget the kindness she and William showed me.’

In May Mr Leake – a former all-in wrestler who fought as the tag partner of Giant Haystacks in the 70s – was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and needed immediate life-saving surgery. He was told that without emergency intervention he could have died within 12 hours.


Kate, 40, broke royal protocol when she reached out to Rick Leake during a walkabout in Scarborough (pictured right), and put her arm around his shoulder after discovering he had been seriously ill with throat cancer

The royal mother-of-three – who visited the North Yorkshire resort town with her husband Prince William, 40, yesterday – held the pose and smiled as his daughter Joanne took a photograph that he will cherish for the rest of his life. Pictured, Mr Leake during his time in hospital, surrounded by his family

An emotional Mr Leake (pictured with his wife, Anne, and his daughters), 73, told Mailonline: ‘She will never know how much it meant to have her reach out to me that way, I will never forget the kindness she and William showed me.’


On hearing that the royals were in town, Mr Leake’s family felt it would help his recuperation to go to The Street community hub in Scarborough, to catch a glimpse of the Prince and Princess of Wales (pictured)

On hearing that the royals were in town, Mr Leake’s family felt it would help his recuperation to go to The Street community hub in Scarborough, to catch a glimpse of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

However the ex Royal Engineer and military policeman got far more than he bargained for.

From his home in Scarborough, Mr Leake said: ‘William spotted me in the crowd and saw that I had a tracheotomy. He said “let him through” and when I got to him he said “I hope your recovery is going well and you are soon up on your feet.”

‘I said I was very sorry about the loss of his Grandma and William said thank you and he posed for a picture with me, which my daughter took.


Mr Leake was a former all-in wrestler who fought as the tag partner of Giant Haystacks (pictured) in the 70s. The heaviest wrestler in the world 43 stone, 7lbs Haystack Calhoun in 1971 (right) 

In May Mr Leake (pictured centre) – a former all-in wrestler who fought as the tag partner of Giant Haystacks in the 70s – was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and needed immediate life-saving surgery

The great-grandfather (pictured with a framed photograph of him and Kate) was told that without emergency intervention he could have died within 12 hours


From his home in Scarborough, Mr Leake (pictured) said: ‘William spotted me in the crowd and saw that I had a tracheotomy. He said “let him through” and when I got to him he said “I hope your recovery is going well and you are soon up on your feet.”

The great-grandfather (pictured) added: ‘I said I was very sorry about the loss of his Grandma and William said thank you and he posed for a picture with me, which my daughter took’

‘That would have been enough but Kate was making her way towards us as she greeted the crowd and my daughter asked if it would be OK to get a picture.

‘She’d been told by someone about my cancer and she reached an arm out to me and put it around my shoulder as we posed for the picture. She said she hoped my treatment and recovery goes well and said “God bless you.”

‘I broke down and cried as they moved away, that’s how much it meant to me. They were such a lovely, kind, genuine down to earth couple and it meant the world to me, I’ve smiled ever since.’

Mr Leake, married to Anne, 71, is being looked after by daughters Tracey, 51, Caroline, 48, and Joanne, 44, as he battles back to health.

In a week’s time he will begin radiotherapy and plans to ring the bell that means he is cancer free a week before Christmas.


‘That would have been enough but Kate was making her way towards us as she greeted the crowd and my daughter asked if it would be OK to get a picture,’ recalled the great-grandfather (pictured getting his photos with the royals) 

‘I broke down and cried as they moved away, that’s how much it meant to me. They were such a lovely, kind, genuine down to earth couple and it meant the world to me, I’ve smiled ever since,’ said Mr Leake (pictured with Kate) 

Before he became ill he was a strapping 21 stone, but the cancer has taken a huge toll on his physical and mental wellbeing.

Joanne said: ‘William and Kate came to Scarborough to help promote mental health charities and in a few moments of kindness they’ve done more for my dad’s than anything else could have.

‘He’s been a little emotional but they are tears of happiness, it meant the world to him. He said that Kate is even more beautiful in real life than she is in her pictures. The whole family is so grateful for what they did for dad.

‘To them meetings like that are small moments in their busy lives, but it has lifted him higher than I have seen him since he was diagnosed, we’re all thrilled to see him so happy.’


Mr Leake, married to Anne, 71, is being looked after by daughters Tracey, 51, Caroline, 48, and Joanne, 44, as he battles back to health

Before he became ill he was a strapping 21 stone, but the cancer has taken a huge toll on his physical and mental wellbeing

In his colourful life Rick has met William’s mother Diana, The Queen and the Queen Mother while he was serving in the armed forces

In his colourful life Rick has met William’s mother Diana, The Queen and the Queen Mother while he was serving in the armed forces.

On leaving the army he took up wrestling under the aliases of The Executioner and Dr Death, fighting alongside some of the legends of the sport including Haystacks, Big Daddy and Kendo Nagasaki. He also worked in security for touring rock bands including The Beatles and Ozzy Osbourne.

The grandad of 12 and great grandfather of eight, said: ‘I’ve lived quite a life and before I got ill I was a big, strong guy of 21 stone, but this cancer has been hard on me. My treatment starts again soon and I now feel ready for it thanks to the caring and kindness of a really lovely couple. It blew my mind.’

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