A balmy sum­mer's day for Polo

A balmy Lon­don sum­mer’s day set the scene for a polo match with pur­pose

Emirates Woman - - Contents - WORDS: GINA JOHN­SON

THE EVENT

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.

THE LO­CA­TION

Royal County of Berk­shire Polo Club, just out­side of Lon­don.

THE MATCH

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.

THE CHAR­ITY

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

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