Back in the Saddle
IT MAY HAVE TAKEN 10 MONTHS, BUT ALL the king’s horses finally put Prince Charles back together again. A disagreeable dismount during a polo match last June broke Charles’s right arm, knocking him out of the season’s competitions and obviously damping the spirit of the polo-mad 42-year-old Crown Prince. But on April 28, for the first time since his mishap, he was in action at Aston Down polo field near his High-grove home, sweeping with cautious confidence for his Cirencester Park Polo Club in a preseason warm-up match before some 20 spectators (though none from his immediate family). No score was kept.
Remarkably, Charles played the full four chukkers (each of seven minutes) the morning after a nine-hour red-eye flight from Brazil, where he had been traveling with Princess Diana on an official visit. (On their return, Di had repaired directly to London’s Kensington Palace to be with Prince Harry. Prince William was away at his boarding school, Ludgrove.) One old polo hand described the proceedings as “just loosening up,” although author Jilly (Polo) Cooper marveled, “It is miraculous [Charles is] even here.”
After the match, Charles kept a cool distance from reporters, but Maj. Ron Ferguson, the Duchess of York’s father and Charles’s polo manager, pronounced the Prince in fine form. “He struck the ball extremely accurately,” Ferguson said. “And the horses went nice and kindly for him.” All boded well for the 60-plus match schedule Charles begins May 16. And what about the pony from which Charles plopped on his royal patootie last year? He’s thought to have been banished—to America.