Both Prince William and Prince Harry have followed in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and shown both a liking and skill at polo. However, signs indicate that they will have to curtail their exploits in the saddle during 2019, mainly because of official duties assisting HM Queen, and their father, Prince Charles. With the United Kingdom looking for additional markets overseas, the Royal Family have been pressed into action to assist with this, and in addition, also have many visits within the UK in support of charities and organisations they support.
Speaking of support for charities, the polo-playing Princes are doing it for more than just the exercise; since 2007, they have raised more than £10 million for charity, and last year Prince Harry raised over $1 million dollars playing in the Sentebale Polo Cup for his African charity. A fair proportion of the money is raised from corporate sponsors, who use the polo events as hospitality events where they can entertain existing and potential clients in the knowledge that they will be at events where the Princes will be present, and who knows potentially their families as well. It is understood that Prince William and Prince Harry are aiming to raise over £1million for every match they play next year.
Polo is known as the sport of kings, and its origins date back to Persia, though there are many versions of the game. It is probably the oldest team sport still in existence today. The modern game was popularised by British Army officers in India in the nineteenth century, from there it spread throughout the Commonwealth, and other countries with British settlers. Perhaps the country that embraced the sport the most was Argentina, where the gauchos with their skill and manoeuvrability on horseback really took to it. Even today a lot of the world’s best players are Argentinian.
But behind each player, there needs to be a good team. Riders will frequently change ponies between chukkas and so grooms need to be warming the next pony up, so they are ready for high speed riding. Speaking of forward planning, I wonder how soon it will be before we see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children riding?