Prince HarrySentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup at the Roma Polo Club, Rome, Italy - 24 May 2019

ROMAN HOLIDAY: For his fourth official engagement since becoming a father earlier this month, the Duke of Sussex ventured farther afield, to Rome, for the ninth annual invitation-only Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup.

The duke took to horseback as part of the Sentebale St. Regis Team, captained by Nacho Figueras, against the U.S. Polo Assn. team, claiming victory with a final score of 9 to 6.

Meanwhile, spectators soaked up the sun — and the Champagne — in the pavilion of the elegant, jasmine-covered Roma Polo Club, Italy’s oldest polo club, which been given a “dolce vita” makeover for the occasion, complete with colorful hand-painted tiles on table tops, citrus-hued deck chairs, plates of little Italian aperitivi, and a good many little lemon trees that featured fruit that had been branded with the logo of St. Regis, which sponsors the duke’s team.

“I wanted to celebrate the best of Italy in Rome as it’s my favorite country in the world, hence all the lemons and mosaic tiles,” explained Lisa Holladay, global brand leader, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts. “The St. Regis hotel is the epitome of the glamour of Roman life, so what better place to come together than at the Roma Polo Club?”

Guests included Peter Dundas, who watched the action intently from the sideline. “I like a good game of sport. It’s good for the mind. I am a bit impulsive when it comes to sports; I had a father who used take me to any sports match he could, so I’m as used to watching track and field as I am to watching soccer, and I played hockey myself,” said Dundas, who was in Rome working on the next collection for his label, which will show in July in Paris during the couture shows following “a big launch with Selfridges” in June.

After the match, guests were ferried to the St. Regis hotel in Rome, which was fresh from a 40 million euro full-scale renovation, for a “midnight supper” that kicked off at around 7 p.m., paying homage to the tradition begun by the Astors (who founded St. Regis) in turn-of-the-century New York.

The Ruinart was flowing as guests filtered into the Ritz Ballroom, which was the city’s first public ballroom when it was opened in 1894 by César Ritz, for a dinner beneath swathes of hanging greenery and flowers.

Quintessentially chief executive officer Annastasia Seebohm was wearing her first couture dress for the occasion. “This is a pretty special event and I wanted to do it justice with a dress from Benveniste Couture,” she told WWD. “Over the course of three fittings in London, we created a dress that I adore, even if I need someone else to button it for me with white gloves — that’s all part of the couture experience.”

Prince Harry described the ballroom as “a beautiful jungle” during his speech, during which he went on to explain the work undertaken by Sentebale, the charity he cofounded in 2006 with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to support vulnerable children and young people affected by HIV in southern Africa.

“Children are often too afraid to access life-saving treatment and care because they are too afraid of what others might think,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is stigma at its very worst. A stigma that has been handed down from generation to generation, forcing young people to keep quiet rather than talk about the virus that thrives on silence.”

Figueras, like Prince Harry, was resident at the hotel over the few days of festivities. “I have been to Rome 10 times before but I feel like every time I come here it’s a new city,” he told WWD.

“There is always something new to explore. Like a tour we took to the Appian Way and the Villa dei Quintili with Filippo Cosmelli, who founded IF Experiences, which works with St. Regis. I learned so much about the history and architecture — it was fascinating, especially because I am passionate about architecture. Actually, if I wasn’t playing polo, I would probably be an architect.”

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