By Alejandra Ocampo
On Wednesday May 3, the Royal Staff at the service of HM Queen Elizabeth II were called to an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace, due next morning. The news set a buzz on thousand rumors and speculations.
Fortunately there was a relief. The call was to announce that Her Majesty’s husband for almost 70 years, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, decided to step down for carrying out royal engagements. He will continue with his royal duties until August, and then will not accept new invitations. However, the Duke, who will turn 96 in June, who is the patron, president and member of many organisations will continue to be associated with them, but will no longer play an active role by attending engagements, and it is said that he will attend some events just from time to time. Among others, he will remain as the President of Guards Polo Club, which he founded on January 25 1955, at Windsor Great Park.
The Duke has earned a reputation for being one of the most active members of the House of Windsor and he’s well known for his wicked sense of humour. He was born in Corfu, Greece, in 1921, and he’s always been a great enthusiastic of polo, a sport he discovered thanks to his beloved uncle and tutor, Lord Louis Mountbatten. Not only Lord Mountbatten introduced him to the sport he loved so much but he also encouraged him to follow a naval career. Philip discovered polo while in service in Malta, in the late 40’s
As a a polo player, the Duke of Edinburgh reached a 5-goal handicap and among others, he won the prestigious Gold Cup for the British Open in 1957 and 1966, with his team Windsor Park; the Royal Windsor Cup, the Westbury Cup, the Cowdray Park Challenge Cup and he even made it to the semifinals of the Hurlingham Open, in Argentina, in 1966.
Back then, he was a huge fan of the Heguy brothers – he played alongside Alberto Pedro Heguy – and the legendary Coronel Suarez foursome. He admired the late Gonzalo Tanoira, with whom he developed a close friendship; the Duke nicknamed him “Speedy”. Even more, Prince Philip wrote the prologue of the book by Gonzalo’s widow, Luisa Miguens, “Passion and Glory, A Century of Argentine Polo”, a review of the history of polo in Argentina, featuring a stunning display of fabulous photos of all times.
In the 60’s, he encouraged his son, HRH Prince Charles, to play polo, just like Lord Mountbatten did with him.
The Duke of Edinburgh gave up playing polo in 1971, and he took up four-in-hand carriage driving. And he continued with his active role within his own Guards Polo Club. He watched the games from his seat at the Royal Box, and usually led the awards presentation of the Coronation Cup. In 2009, the Duke accompained HM Queen Elizabeth during the reopening of the beautiful clubhouse and Royal Box at Guards Polo Club, and in 2015 he hosted a gala event at Windsor Castle to celebrate the club’s 60th. anniversary.
Despite HRH The Duke of Edinburgh is retiring from royal duties, it doesn’t mean he retires from his love for polo; so we’re very much looking forward to seeing him at the matches in the upcoming seasons!