By John Mundt

In 2001, I followed a whim and sought counsel on how to write a proper letter to a member of the British royal family. The hope was to one day see the American Museum of Fly Fishing acquire a piece of tackle used by a royal family member. After assuming it had come to nothing, I was elated when Sara Wilcox rang several months later to report that a package addressed to me had arrived by Royal Mail—she asked what she should do with it. “Open it!” I remember bellowing with excitement. Inside was a fishing vest and letter sent from St. James’s Palace, home to then Prince Charles. One could immediately tell that this vest had been donned by an angler who used it often.

A battered, much worn khaki fishing vest is displayed on an armless torso form. The pockets and sides are stained with dirt and grime, and a patch, frayed edges, and a hole are visible in various spots.

 King Charles III’s fishing vest. Accession no. 2001.009.001. From the collection of the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

The back of the vest and the card that accompanied the gift. 

Newly crowned King Charles III is one of us: a member of the world community and an avid angler. As patron of the Flyfishers’ Club of London, he penned the following words in the foreword of its centennial history in 1984: “There will always be the same joy, as long as stretches of river remain flowing through unspoilt countryside, of a day spent with a fly rod in perfect solitude . . . proving that there is more to fishing than just catching fish.”1 As a patron of both the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association, he has been steadfast in his efforts to ensure that the sport we so cherish can long endure.

Looking back on that 2001 day during this coronation year, I found myself chuckling when reading the following news bit from 2017 in the Daily Mail.

The Prince of Wales plans to extend his summer holiday at the Queen’s Balmoral estate “for an extra week because the fly fishing is so good,” according to a royal photographer. . . . [T]he heir to the throne already plans to stay for seven days longer than planned so he can continue to pursue one of his favourite hobbies. . . . Fly fishing is a favoured pastime of several members of the royal family, with the late Queen mother a fan of the sport, while Prince Philip has also been known to take part in the activity while at Balmoral.2

Prince Charles wades in the River Dee. His rod is propped on his right shoulder, and he's wearing fishing gear and a tweed driving cap. He's looking at the water with a slightly perplexed expression.

In this undated photo, then Prince Charles fly fishes for salmon on the River Dee near Balmoral wearing the same vest he donated to the museum in 2001. ANL/Daily Mail/Shutterstock,

From the assistant private secretary to HRH The Prince of Wales. 18th June 2001. Dear Mr. Mundt, The Prince of Wales was intrigued by your letter of 2 February, and fascinated to learn of the American Museum of Fly Fishing. His Royal Highness agrees that it is the noblest of sports, and well worth of a museum dedicated to its history and traditions. Following a recent fishing expedition, and minded of your request, the Prince of Wales asked me to send you the enclosed personal item of fishing equipment which might find a place in your museum. The jacket is a trusted friend that has stood the Prince of Wales in good stead on many expeditions on the Dee and the Spey, and His Royal Highness is delighted that it may now find a suitable home to do justice to the great service it has done him. This comes with the Prince of Wales's best wishes to you and to all American fly fisherman. Yours truly, Nigel Baker

The letter accompanying the vest. In it, Assistant Private Secretary Nigel Baker notes, “The jacket is a trusted friend that has stood The Prince of Wales in good stead on many expeditions on the Dee and the Spey, and His Royal Highness is delighted that it may now find a suitable home to do justice to the great service it has done him.”

The angling community also appreciates His Majesty’s respect for the pillars of our sport. When the esteemed fly tier Megan Boyd passed into eternity the same year we received the vest, the New York Times reported the following in her obituary:

An aide to Prince Charles once showed up and asked that she quickly whip up a masterpiece or two. She declined, saying that [she] was going to a Scottish dance in the village. She loved the traditional dances.

The prince held no grudge. He visited her last year in the nursing home where she had lived in recent years.3

Raising my glass during this coronation year, your correspondent is proud to report that he shares three things in common with His Majesty: having Queen Elizabeth II on the throne the day we each were born; a height of 5 feet, 10 inches; and a love of fly fishing and its traditions. To me it seems fitting that 6 May 2023 falls just before the beginning of the Duffers’ Fortnight4 in Hampshire, England, and that the coronation celebrations will not interfere with His Majesty’s trout fishing. Long live the King!

This article first appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of the American Fly Fisher.


  1. Charles, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, Foreword, in Jack Chance and Julian Paget, eds., The Flyfishers’: An Anthology to Mark the Centenary of The Flyfishers’ Club (London: The Flyfishers’ Club, 1984), vi. Emphasis in quotation is mine, where His Royal Highness is quoting the motto of the Flyfishers’ Club of London.
  2. Jessica Green, “Prince Charles plans to extend his summer holiday at Balmoral ‘for an extra week because the fishing is so good’, royal photographer says,” Daily Mail, 6 August 2020.
  3. Douglas Martin, “Megan Boyd, Eccentric Master of Fish Flies, Dies at 86,” New York Times, 11 December 2001.
  4. According to Charles Rangeley-Wilson, the Duffer’s Fortnight is “a blessed window of time between mid May and early June, [when] the allegedly educated trout of the English chalkstreams become so easy even a duffer can catch them.” Charles Rangeley-Wilson, “Essential Mayfly Kit: Demystifying Duffer’s Fortnight,” The Field, 23 May 2020.