Prince Harry plays in benefit on New York’s Governors Island

His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales spent a busy weekend in New York City in late June. Many noted that his visit showed a more mature side of the Prince, who has been known as a partyer, and likened his interest and work with charities to that of his late mother, Lady Diana. However, his visit ended with something his father, Prince Charles, is know for: polo.

Prince Harry was in town to raise money for Sentebale, a charity he founded in 2006 with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. The name Sentebale means “forget me not.” Sentebale works with grassroots organizations to identify, support and empower the estimated 400,000 orphans in Lesotho, an impoverished country in Southern Africa with the third highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. The week before heading to New York, Prince Harry brought his brother, Prince William, to Lesotho for the first time to show him the work Sentebale is doing.

Prince Harry began his official three-day visit to New York at the United States Military Academy in West Point where, dressed in camouflage, the 25-year-old participated in a training exercise with American cadets. Firing an M4 rifle with live-ammo, shooting targets more than the length of a polo field away, he impressed the officers and cadets with his accuracy.

From there, he went to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and gave a speech on the deck of the USS Intrepid about the long ties between the U.S. and U.K. military.

On Saturday, the Prince toured the UNICEF offices in New York City before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Minnesota Twins. That evening he attended a fundraiser for American Friends of Sentebale, an American offshoot of the Sentebale charity, at the Greenwich Country Club in Greenwich, Connecticut.

His schedule continued at a rapid pace. On a steamy hot Sunday, Prince Harry put on his running shoes and ran in the 8th Annual Achilles Hope and Possibility run in New York’s Central Park. Prince Harry joined 34 members of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans in the 5-mile run. The organization trains and sponsors recently wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to participate in races nationwide. Another 5,000 runners of all ability levels participated in the event.

Prince Harry ended his stay by playing in the 3rd Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Governors Island on Sunday afternoon. The match also was a benefit for Sentebale, where tables for 10 inside the VIP tent went for between $20,000 and $50,000 depending on their proximity to the Prince. The event drew celebrities like Val Kilmer, Julianna Margulies, Mary J. Blige, Carol Alt, and Susan Sarandon who sported a foot brace and crutch while she recovers from foot surgery. Other notable attendees included Mayor Bloomberg and his equestrian daughter Georgina, music mogul Russell Simmons, Ivanka Trump, and Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas. With his shirt glistening with sweat, Prince Harry spoke to the VIP guest, commending the United States saying it “has always protected the downtrodden, the poorest, those most in need of help in the world, and to me, this is what the United States stands for.”

Invitations for the VIP marquee tent recommended gentlemen wear a summer suit, while ladies were asked to wear their most daring hat. Guest with children were reminded to bring their own caregiver since children were not permitted in the VIP tent and instead were seated at an area next to the tent with activities and snacks.

To get to the event, guests, players and even the horses were shuttled over by ferry. In anticipation of large crowds most arrived hours early, but the unseasonable heat baked the enthusiasm out of many by the time the match began.

The VIP picnic section, where for $250, guests were treated to a bright yellow Veuve Clicquot picnic blanket and a picnic basket with bottles of champagne and water, a sandwich, salads, desert and a bottomless champagne glass. But the unforgiving sun left picnickers scrambling to find souvenir umbrellas, which sold out quickly. Water was also going faster than organizers could restock it, but there was plenty of champagne to go around. Apparently, last year’s general admission guests seeped into the area for the VIP all-you-can-drink champagne area at halftime so this year, security roped off half the field preventing general admission guests from reaching the VIP section at halftime.

The start of the match brought heat exhausted guests, some 12,000 strong, to their feet, hoping to catch a glimpse of the prince. The prince played for the defending champion Black Rock team led by Nicolas Roldan, Naco Taverna and Larry Austin. They challenged the Black Watch team with Nacho Figueras, Gonzalo Avendano, Carlos Mansur and Rico Mansur. Tony Coppola was on hand to announce alongside Alexander Gilkes. Black Rock managed the first goal just a minute into the match. Just a few minutes later, Prince Harry’s horse put on the breaks as it approached the sidelines adorned with numerous bright yellow umbrellas. The prince wasn’t quiet ready for it and tumbled over the horse’s neck, landing on his backside. Most players will agree, all things considered, the fall was no indication of his riding or playing abilities. He likely was jet-lagged, on strange horses, in extreme heat, and tired after having run in a race earlier that day. He was a good sport about it and quickly jumped to his feet, but more photos were snapped in that 10 seconds than would be taken in an entire match had there been no fall. And that became the story of the day, with headlines screaming out from numerous media outlets both in the United States and Britain: Prince Harry Thrown From Horse. Coincidentally, his horse fell with him in the last polo benefit for Sentebale, in Barbados this past January.

Black Rock led by two goals in the third of four chukkers played on the small field, but Black Watch came back and tied it at 5-5. With the horses tired and the heat still beating down, overtime was limited to just two minutes. Prince Harry, who scored two goals in the match, missed two chances to score before Black Watch found the posts for the win.

After the match, Nacho Figueras was named Most Valuable Player, for which he was awarded a limited edition Piaget 45 chronograph watch, reportedly worth six figures. He immediately announced the watch would be auctioned off for charity. Figueras, best known to the general public as a model for Ralph Lauren, is using his celebrity to promote polo—the sport, which he clearly is passionate about, as well as to raise money for charity. He indicated he plans to visit Lesotho to see for himself the good work Sentebale is doing to help the impoverished children.

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