A balmy summer's day for Polo
A balmy London summer’s day set the scene for a polo match with purpose
One of the most anticipated events of the polo season, the annual ISPS Handa Polo Cup was established by HRH, the Duke of Sussex to raise awareness of the charity he founded with his close friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho in honour of their late mothers. The foundation – which has been sponsored by St Regis Hotels & Resorts for nine years – supports vulnerable children and young people affected by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana in southern Africa.
Throughout the day, guests were entertained to prime viewing from the exclusive St Regis marquee which paid tribute to the brand’s gilded age of heritage and glamour. Exquisite drinks were served along with an afternoon tea of oversized Ottolenghi strawberries and cherry meringues. Guests swooned in the sunshine to the sounds of a jazz quartet from the renowned Jazz at Lincoln Centre, part of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, which was a nod to the legends who performed in the 1930s at the original St Regis hotel in New York City.
The polo match was preceded by a light luncheon and charity auction attended by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to raise funds for Sentebale’s life-changing projects, with selected guests who enjoyed picnics and midnight suppers in London's ritzy Mayfair.
Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, just outside of London.
Long-time friends and sporting peers, the Duke of Sussex and Argentinian professional polo player Nacho Figueras, teamed up to play for St Regis in the highly anticipated match against their friendly rivals, the Royal Salute polo team. The annual, invitation-only event was attended by notable VIPs including former rugby player Mike Tindall, the Duke’s mentor Mark Dyer, and Delfina Blaquier, former Ralph Lauren model and wife of Nacho Figueras.
Having previously played in the Sentebale Cup in Abu Dhabi, Nacho has a soft spot for both the Middle East and his team mate, the Duke of Sussex.
“We played on opposing teams the last time we played in Abu Dhabi,” he noted. “It’s such a beautiful and exciting destination, but even though it’s a charity match, the Duke is always very competitive. “I’ve travelled with him to Lesotho a few times now and it’s incredible to see him playing with the children. They have so little, even having a tennis ball to throw around means the world to them.”
While the match was the focal point of the day, all eyes (and lenses) were fixed on newly married Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who stole the limelight in a dark denim dress by Carolina Herrera teamed with nude pumps by Aquazzura. She carried a chic rattan clutch by high street favourite J Crew – the same one owned by Pippa Middleton. The Duchess rewarded her husband on the podium with a winner’s kiss, much to the delight of the crowds.
Sentebalewasco-foundedbytheDukeofSussexand Prince Seeiso in 2006. The charity began working in Lesotho, southern Africa, to rewrite the future for children and young people affected by HIV, by providing vital access to care, education and, critically, psychosocial support.
Today, the charity supports over 4,000 children and young people a year in Lesotho and Botswana through the clubs and camps programme. Despite progress to date, globally 1,700 new HIV infections occur every day among young people (UNAIDS, 2017) with many youths in southern Africa unaware of their HIV status, and afraid to get tested.
Through youth-led campaigning and advocacy, Sentebale’s Let Youth Lead programme addresses the lack of youth-friendly health services and reproductive health taught in schools in southern Africa. The programme provides young people affected by HIV with a platform to voice their challenges and to drive policies that better meets the needs of their generation.
Argentinianpoloplayer NachoFiguerasmid gameattheannual ISPSHandaPoloCup sponsoredbyStRegis Hotels&Resorts