Not many people can boast that the future King of England has carried their luggage for them – but that is exactly what happened to a Cornish businessman after a chance encounter in the 1960s saw a union form that continues to this day.

He may now be known for designing world-famous staircases, with clients that include royalty, but Mike Jordan, now chairman of Cornish Stairways International, actually began his career in the Royal Navy.

It could be argued it was written in the stars when he joined the Navy on the same day as the then Prince Charles, back in May 1965.

While the young prince went into Navigation, at Portsmouth, Mike, from Falmouth, went into engineering at Edinburgh – but their paths would cross again.

After qualifying as a cadet engineer Mike served on three Leander class frigates before being invited to join a select team under the Command of Admiral Lee Spaulding, commander in C&C Fleet Portsmouth.

Mike recalls: “My duty under his command was to set up a specialist ‘vibration analysis team’ for planned maintenance of the fleet, working with two scientists to achieve this goal, which we did successfully.”

With his path apparently mapped set, out of the blue his father became progressively ill while managing the family blacksmithing firm in Penryn, Davey & Jordan.

His doctors suggested he stop trading, or at least retire, because the soot was affecting his lungs.

Mike and his brother were asked if they would be willing to give up their careers in the Royal Navy and return home to Cornwall to take on the blacksmith – which being dutiful sons they agreed to.

“I gave in my notice to the Admiral, who reluctantly had to agree to let me go,” said Mike.

Fate was to intervene before he would depart, however. One week before he was due to leave the Navy, the Admiral called Mike into his office to ask a favour.

A naval war ship on patrol in the Mediterranean was suffering engineering problems, which was proving a slight embarrassment to the Royal Navy – although this was not known to Mike at the time.

He was flown immediately to Palermo in Scilly and then on to the ship by helicopter on passage off the coast.

And it was then it happened. Mike remembers: “When we landed on the warship deck, myself still in flying suit and helmet, Prince Charles open the door of the helicopter and offered to take my briefcase!

“He was officer of the watch and of course I was representing the admiral of the fleet.

“I followed him up the sidewalk en route to meeting the captain on the bridge. All I could think of was ‘never again’ will the future King of England carry my briefcase again in life! Hence the embarrassment to the Navy, his ship having problems.”

Falmouth Packet: Mike would go on to create more royal connections, thanks to poloMike would go on to create more royal connections, thanks to polo (Image: Mike Jordan)

During the night passage, with his electronic kit plugged into parts of the engine and gearbox, Mike was able to talk with the prince freely on the bridge.

It was the start of a lasting connection, and a turn of events meant they never totally lost touch.

The then Prince Charles wrote Mike a personal letter asking if he would be interested in joining the Board of the Prince’s Trust, which he accepted.

“On one particular occasion we were asked to allocate the day first for the Board meeting but to leave the afternoon free. The surprise was to go to a small town call Beaufort to watch a polo match.

Falmouth Packet: One of the royal polo matches for the Prince's TrustOne of the royal polo matches for the Prince's Trust (Image: Mike Jordan)

“After the game he [Charles] joined us all for a cream tea. He asked what I was doing these days and I told him of my commissioned work for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, for the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai.

“Off the top of my head I just came out with it – ‘How would you like it if I tried to have an audience with His Highness to see if he would be willing to have a challenge polo match here in England, on behalf of the Prince’s Trust, of which we could call it the challenge of the two crown princes tournament?’

“This is exactly what I did and now the challenge matches take place each year at Guards Polo Club, Windsor Great Park, London.”

This has now been going on for 20 years, with funds going to the Trust, and Mike added: “I’m so pleased my initiative on day one has put so much into the Prince’s Trust Funds to help youngsters get started with their own business ideas for many years. Long may it continue.”