Prince Harry playing polo. Photo: Jamie McCarthy Getty Images)
GREENWICH, Conn. (USA Today) -- It's the pinnacle of private in a place known for exclusivity. Now it will known as the place where red-haired royalty played polo - and won.
Prince Harry, looking great as usual on a horse, captained a polo match here among the rich and famous to raise money for his African children's charity that supports the poor and unknown.
"Prince Harry's on the action," the announcer shouted as the game got underway on a wet afternoon here. "Nicely driven ball" by HRH, who played wearing No.1. It's a furiously fast game: HRH whacks, he scores! In the end, his team wins, 4-3, and Harry and teammates hoist the winning cup over their heads.
Then he was gone, winging his way home, no doubt with a glass of well-deserved bubbly in first-class.
But while he was here, he brightened up a rainy afternoon. This luxurious place couldn't be farther away from Africa. The lush grounds lie down a winding, narrow road behind a discreet, all-but-unmarked entrance.
The sun came out and then went away and the rain poured down. When the visiting Scottish Duke of Argyll walked the red carpet, the weather turned appropriately British, drizzly and chilly, so the dress code is trenches and brollies (umbrellas).
Harry, dressed in a dark blazer, lunched (lobster canapes and filet of beef) with, and then played before, a relatively cozy crowd of 400 invited guests (and 200 journalists) in the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup held at the Greenwich Polo Club, in a town of hedge-fund mansions whose main drag boasts a Baccarat.
At the lunch, according to pool reporters via Twitter, Harry thanked all for a "wonderful week" in the USA, and praised the "extraordinary generosity" of Americans.
The nearly five-hour, fanfare-filled finale to the prince's U.S. tour featured some other famous guests, including Mel B (Scary Spice), Gayle King, and actor Owen Wilson, plus designers Jason Wu and Valentino.
"I'm going to try not to drool when I see him!" King joked to reporters.
Wu, looking more Greenwich Village than Greenwich, Conn., was wearing dark jeans, white trainers and a rolled-sleeve blazer over a striped T-shirt. He confesses that he hasn't been paying attention to Harry's tour wardrobe, being busy and all working on his resort collection. But he's fine with Harry's recycling his ties during the trip.
"If you have something you love, you should wear it all the time," he tells reporters. Even a tie with bunnies? "Even if it has bunnies on it." (It was a tie by British designer Paul Smith.)
Among the players: Dawn Jones, wife of actor Tommy Lee Jones, who won the MVP award. "I'm like a little Jack Russell (terrier) on crack - I like to go for the ball," she told reporters about her polo style.
But the real star here is Harry. After palming an American football and grimacing under a cheerleader pyramid in Colorado Springs over the weekend, and after smacking a home run at a baseball game in Harlem on Tuesday, Harry returned to familiar athletic territory: the polo field.
Harry, 28 and third in line to the throne, excels at the sport with the swanky-but-dangerous reputation, as do his brother, father, grandfather and most of the males in his royal family. Harry is both athletic and a serving captain in the British Army, and his seven-day visit to the USA was aimed at promoting Britain, wounded-warrior athletes and his charities.
"His ranking in the sport is perfectly solid given his many other roles and pursuits in life," says polo-loving Adam Brecht, an unofficial ambassador for and member of the club, as well as as member of a British polo club. "Polo is his recreation, not his profession, yet he makes sure his polo benefits charity."
The Greenwich Polo Club was founded by billionaire businessman Peter Brant, a polo player, art collector and husband of model Stephanie Seymour, who sat next to Harry at lunch. Brecht says Greenwich is the American polo club most like a British club in setting and tone.
As reporters waited impatiently in the media pen surrounded by a white picket fence, Brant said today is an "exceptional" day.
The club is unique for Brant's art collection, with major artworks by the likes of Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons nearby where the polo players and horse race around the fields. Harry toured the collection.
The polo match was arguably top ticket of the Harry tour. There was so much interest, wannabe attendees dangled cash and volunteered for flag-boy duty just for a chance to glimpse the mounted prince wielding a mallet, according to The New York Times.
The match was held to raise funds for Sentebale ("forget me not" in Sesotho), the charity Harry founded in 2006 along with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, which aims to help Lesotho's impoverished and HIV/AIDS-infected children. Harry spent part of his gap year in the country, which is landlocked by South Africa.
It was the last hurrah of Harry's excellent week-long tour of the USA, where he charmed and impressed royalists and non-royalists alike, adding considerably to his own reputation, that of his family and of Britain in general.
Not a bad week for a guy who less than a year ago was blushing over photos of himself nude in a Las Vegas hotel room. But not anymore.