A Royal Navy veteran who went on to teach a young King Charles during the 1970s died after being exposed to asbestos, a court has heard. 

Dennis Cooper, of Texel Way in Mundesley, near Cromer, died at home earlier this year on February 2.  

At an inquest in his death, Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard that the 87-year-old was a retired Royal Navy chief petty officer.  

Eastern Daily Press:

His son, Nicholas Cooper, provided a statement to the Norwich-based court. 

He said: “Dad joined the navy in 1951 and came out of it in 1976 before becoming a training officer in the agricultural industry. 

“He went on to have various training, management, and security roles before he retired. 

“He even taught the then Prince Charles in the 1970s and went drinking with him.” 

Eastern Daily Press: Prince Charles (now King Charles) and the late Queen Mother pictured on their arrival at

The court heard while in the navy, Mr Cooper worked on a ship called HMS Obdurate, originally used during the Second World War.  

In 1953 the ship took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. 

Mr Cooper added: “In the late 1950s, they were in dock for a refit. 

“The dockyard people came onto the ship and ripped all of the wall cladding off during the refurbishment. 

“And dad was expected to remain living in it during the refit. 

“This is where he was exposed to asbestos, as it was used for lots of things years ago but the dangers were not known.” 

Eastern Daily Press: HMS Obdurate at anchor - the ship which Dennis Cooper worked on

After undergoing a private ultrasound and CT scan in July 2023, he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and subsequently mesothelioma. 

Area coroner Yvonne Blake read evidence from a GP at Mundesley Medical Centre, who gave the medical cause of death as malignant mesothelioma.  

She added: “It seems he was exposed to asbestos during a ship re-fit quite early on in his navel career. 

“He became unwell in 2023, although he had lots of comorbidities prior to that. 

“His illness took hold of him very quickly and he died in early 2024.” 

She concluded he died from “industrial disease”.