SO HOT RIGHT NOW: Prince Harry and his bride kept their cool on the polo field this week despite bafflingly hot conditions that have settled like a steamy towel over much of the U.K. The newlyweds traveled to the once-green — but now parched — countryside in Windsor for the 2018 Sentebale Polo Cup at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, with the prince playing for the Sentebale St. Regis team.
“Thank you for joining us at what feels like a group sauna,” kidded Prince Harry during his speech on Thursday. “Those that laughed have obviously been in one before.” The prince pointed out that the team’s most recent polo matches have been in hot climates, including Abu Dhabi and South Africa, Florida and Singapore. “And I had hoped this year’s match might avoid the stifling heat. Being ginger is one thing, but riding a horse chasing a ball in this heat is quite,” illogical, said the red-haired, fair-skinned prince.
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, was among the guests, and wore a navy, belted denim dress by Carolina Herrera. She topped it off with Tom Ford “Emma” sunglasses and nude pointed pumps by Aquazzura.
With temperatures nearing 101 degrees Fahrenheit and the country close to declaring a national emergency, the shade cast by an ancient oak tree became the most popular spot, with guests gathering there to enjoy a pre-lunch glass of Champagne.
Annastasia Seebohm, the new chief executive officer of Quintessentially, the London-based luxury lifestyle management concierge and service company, was among them, abstaining from the fizz in preparation for her first television interview on Sky News.
“I was prepping in the car ride out here and my driver must have thought I was crazy. I was asking and answering myself questions, trying to remember all the stats,” she said, adding that she was very much looking forward to a stiff drink after her interview.
The event was sponsored by St. Regis Hotels and Resorts and was held to raise money and awareness for Sentebale, the charity founded in 2006 by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. It supports vulnerable children and young people affected by HIV in southern Africa. And the notion of giving back is one that is increasingly popular with Quintessentially’s members.
“More and more, we are seeing our members booking a 10-day holiday with their families and requesting to spend a portion of that time working with a charity,” said Seebohm. “They want to give back and allow their families to experience that.”
During his speech, the prince said huge strides had been made in the fight against HIV and yet there are still people being left behind. “The virus is starting to strike back as a result of complacency across the world. And the epidemic is very much still with us,” he said. “We have been working hard to break down the stigma and discrimination that affects so many people living with human immunodeficiency virus. We now run local clubs in Lesotho and Botswana.”
The royal couple arrived at the marquee for lunch accompanied by the St. Regis ambassador and polo champion Nacho Figueras and his wife Delfina Blaquier. Over lunch, a stay at Camp Kerala, the ultraluxurious festival camp, was auctioned for 30,000 pounds and afterward, guests made their way to a separate marquee that was decked out with masses of fresh wildflowers, to watch the afternoon’s polo match.
The Duke of Sussex played on the Sentebale St. Regis team, which was captained by Figueras. They competed against the Royal Salute team, captained by Malcolm Borwick. The Sentebale St. Regis team won by one point, for a final score of 5 to 4.
The scorching heat was no biggie for Figueras, who has been training at an altitude for the last month. “I’ve been playing polo in Aspen for the last four weeks to increase my endurance so this was easy breezy,” he said. “And, actually, this is not so hot for me. In Argentina, to play in these hot conditions is pretty normal.”
After presenting the prize to the winning team, Lisa Holladay, global brand leader for The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, headed back to the tent for afternoon tea and said she was proud of her own team for bringing to life a fantasy polo match in the British countryside.
“A lot of our guests today may not necessarily have been to a polo match, especially not one in England, so we really wanted to bring to life the romance of a quintessentially British summer afternoon for this year’s Polo Cup,” she said, pointing out the wooden crates that were overflowing with fresh cherries and strawberries, the giant pots of wildflowers including foxgloves and daisies, cocktails garnished with slivers of cucumber and staff decked in diaphanous cream dresses by Zimmermann.
“My mantra is ‘pretty and perfect,’ and I think we nailed it. The only thing I wish we had done was have baskets of flip-flops so all the women could get out of their shoes.”