Former Burnley Football Club director John Sullivan reflects on King Charles III's longstanding affection for Burnley

A former director of Burnley Football Club who was one of the first people to help forge strong links between Charles, the former Prince of Wales, and Burnley, has said he is confident the new king will maintain his avowed love for the town.

Mr John Sullivan spoke to the Burnley Express about his admiration for His Majesty King Charles III and reflected on some of his earliest meetings with the royal who has famously and publically declared his affection for Burnley.

"I was watching on television the procession of the Queen’s coffin up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh from Holyrood House to St Giles Cathedral, with the new king following behind, when I was reminded of the second time I met Prince Charles, at Holyrood House,” Mr Sullivan recalled.

Prince Charles first visited Burnley Football Club in 2005 when he met, amongst others, Mr Sullivan who was wearing his claret and blue tie when they met again at Holyrood House two years later.

King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, meeting former Burnley Football Club director John Sullivan at Holyrood House in Edinburgh

He added: “Prince Charles immediately recognised the tie and struck up a conversation. We had a really good chinwag and I think his love for the town of Burnley and the football club really grew from there.

"I know that he is very proud of the work that the Prince’s Trust do in the town and he was also very pleased that Burnley Football Club later became the first club in the country to offer the Duke of Edinburgh award.

"He has a very genuine affection for Burnley and has a great affinity with the people. He has big shoes to fill as monarch but I am confident he will fill the role perfectly.”

Mr Sullivan went on to meet other senior royals including Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, who also visited Turf Moor.

The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles all famously visited Burnley during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2012, a visit Mr Sullivan believes Prince Charles was instrumental in organising.

He added: “King Charles is obviously going to be a lot busier now but it would be wonderful if he could visit Burnley again as king. He is a great man.”

In 2016, Mr Sullivan was given the rare honour of being given the Freedom of the City of London for his service to the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the St John Ambulance.

He joined a long list of luminaries to be made Freemen including Sir Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Morgan Freeman, Bill Gates and fellow Burnley old boy, the actor Sir Ian McKellen.

Several American Presidents as well as leading figures from science, literature and the arts have also been recipients of the honour.

The retired businessman has in the past also been made a Commander of the Order of St John. In 2012, he also received the Order of the Polar Star for his contribution to Mongolian sport and youth development programmes in his role as president of the Commonwealth Judo Association.