There’s something about having the British royals around that makes Americans of all ages act like it’s 1964 again and the Beatles just landed.
Prince Harry’s latest tour of the country was no exception. Week-long trip was marked by a seemingly endless barrage of pictures of girls crying/staring adoringly/ squealing (and so forth) from Washington D.C. to Colorado. Chris Christie looked charmed, the media went nuts, and (of course), there was an interview on Good Morning America.
The madness culminated yesterday, when Harry played in an exclusive polo match for the 3rd Annual Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Now, as you’ve probably figured, Greenwich doesn’t do frenzy like teen girls in New Jersey do frenzy. We’re talking about the hedge fund capital of the world here. The event was held at the Greenwich Polo Club, a gorgeous, sprawling piece of countryside owned by billionaire businessman Peter Brant — Land Rover and St. Regis were two of the sponsors.
And of course, the event had a cause. The Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup is a fundraiser for Sentebale, a charity Prince Harry founded with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho in honour of their mothers. The organisation benefits children that have been impacted by the AIDS crisis in southern Africa, and it’s looking to expand its efforts throughout the region.
Put all that together and you’ve got a royal, a great cause, and the sport of kings. This, ladies and gentleman, is Greenwich’s wheelhouse.
Only 400 tickets were available for this invite-only party, and they seem to have sold out in March.
And why wouldn’t they — How often do Princes come around for the afternoon? The party started at 11:30 am, with guests trickling in slowly (some opting in to do the step and repeat — we did not) during a cocktail hour sponsored by Royal Salute Whisky.
It rained — no one cared.
Around 12:15 pm, the colorfully clad polo patrons started filing into a large white dining tent to await the Prince. Sometime before the gnocchi or fillet mignon, he got on stage and made a speech about Sentabale.
And you know something? Prince Harry has a very welcoming demeanor. He smiles alot, he chuckles at people’s jokes, he has a relaxed and confident stance. Since he’s so at ease, it puts you at ease — and that means you listen.
Sentebale funds Mamohato Camps, places where kids with HIV can get educated about their status and receive the physical and psychological support they need. This is intended not only to help the kids as individuals, but also as a way to use education to stop the spread of the disease.
“Many of you may have heard this before and you’re thinking, ‘another African Charity,'” said Prince Harry. “But we believe the Mamohato Camps are a real game changer.”
Harry’s time at lunch was cut short because he had to prep for the polo match, and that takes some doing. Helmet and boots aside, if you want to play in a game of polo, you need four extremely smart, extremely fearless, well-trained horses — one for each 7 minute period (the periods are called chuckers).
And you need to know how good you are. Every polo player is given a “goal” handicap from -2 to 10. There are only a few 10 goals in the world, and the two highest rated players on the field yesterday, polo stars Nacho Figueras and Malcolm Borwick, are both 6s.
Harry is a 1 goal. But if you haven’t spent your life leaning sideways on a saddle hitting a fairly small ball with a stick while a horse runs at full speed, that’s pretty good.
Polo pros are tireless wanderers, constantly travelling with their families to places where polo is in season. (Figueras, for example, had his wife and kids with him). This match marked the beginning of polo in the New York area.
So a slightly tipsy, definitely well-dressed group of party-goers got to watch Harry lean, yell, and careen across the field. The rain stopped, the sun shined, and aside from a brief moment when Harry’s teammate Michael Carrazza, a private equity CEO, suffered a minor injury, there were no physical hiccups.
And then the Sentebale team won.
The Cup was presented by former Victoria Secret model Karolina Kurkova, there was kissing and hand waving, and cheering — and then poof, Prince Harry was gone.
The party still went on though. It’s not like you need a Prince to throw a good party in Greenwich.