Barrow pub locals enjoy a pint with an African king

King Letsie III enjoys a pint with locals at the Bay Horse in Barrow
King Letsie III enjoys a pint with locals at the Bay Horse in Barrow

It's not every day that an African king calls by a village pub for a pint, but that's exactly what happened at the Bay Horse in Barrow recently.

His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho enjoyed a pint with locals at the Bay Horse after being invited by old school friend Andrew Forsythe from Whalley.

The visit, a rarity in royal protocol, came about when Andrew joked to landlady Sue Driver that he could get an international Lesotho football shirt, signed by the king himself, to hang on the wall of the pub.

The pair have known each other from childhood when they attended Ampleforth College, an independent school in Yorkshire.

Currently on a trip to Europe, King Letsie telephoned Andrew and said he would visit Lancashire to see his old friend.

Andrew said: "It really is an extraordinary story. I have known Letsie since I was seven-years-old. He's the most beautiful man and this visit was typical of him.

"It all came about when many years ago one of the Bay Horse locals flew to the USA and bumped into boxer Ricky Hatton on the flight. Ricky was kind enough to sign a photograph for the pub.

"The landlord at the time Bill Driver, who is sadly no longer with us, mentioned the picture to me and as a joke I said I would get a signed international football shirt from the King of Lesotho.

"I was lucky enough to have grown up at school with Letsie and on next speaking to him mentioned the story. Within a week or so a signed shirt arrived and Bill had it framed and hung on the wall in the Bay with a picture of the king, queen, two princesses and prince.

"Then just the other week I received a call from Letsie asking if I would be around the end of June. He was in Rome but wanted to visit the pub and see his shirt. Sure enough, he arrived in a blacked out car with his security.

"He enjoyed an hour at the Bay followed by lunch at the Freemasons in Wiswell. I later received a text from him sending his love to Bill's widow Sue, their son Adam and 'all my new friends at the Bay Horse'. It's a remarkable and lovely story."

King Letsie (born David Mohato Bereng Seeiso succeeded his father, Moshoeshoe II, when the latter was forced into exile in 1990. His father was briefly restored in 1995 but soon died in a car crash in early 1996, and Letsie became king again. As a constitutional monarch, most of King Letsie's duties as monarch of Lesotho are ceremonial.