More than 40 members of the media got a sneak preview Tuesday afternoon of the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club ahead of next month’s visit by Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The gray morning couldn’t dampen the spirits and excitement for the July 9 Foundation Polo Challenge event.
A teaser VIP tent and table were set up on the polo fields located behind the clubhouse with linens fashioned after the iconic blue Tiffany & Co. color and a variety of white flowers used to represent the white Tiffany bow.
Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis has designed a unique menu for the royal luncheon inspired by recipes from her family.
Ticket prices for the charity event range from $400 to $4,000 per person to attend the world-class polo match with royal participants. Grandstand seating will hold more than 600 VIP spectators, who will have access to a private reception with players, a luncheon and valet parking courtesy of Audi. Additional temporary bleacher seating will spill onto Polo Fields 2 and 3 to seat more than 2,000 eager onlookers.
Prince William will play in the polo match as a member of Team Royal Salute. Other teams participating in the match include Team Audi and Team Santa Barbara.
At the conclusion of the tournament, Middleton will present to the winning team a custom-designed trophy by Tiffany & Co. in sterling silver cast with horse-head handles and decorative bands of horseshoe motifs. The trophy has been donated to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club for permanent display.
Proceeds from the charity polo match will go to the American Friends of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry, a charitable organization created in 2011 that supports disadvantaged children, sustainable resources and conservation, and the support of veterans and military families. A donation will also be made to the Polo Training Center Santa Barbara.
The event was inspired by Ambassador Glen Holden to kick off the 2011 season. Holden is a local retired polo player who played both with and against Prince Charles over the years. Two years ago, Holden wrote a letter to Prince Charles asking if one of the young princes would like to honor the Santa Barbara Polo Club with a visit during its centennial celebration.
“At that time I didn’t know there would be a royal wedding,” Holden said. “It’s an honor to have them here on one of their first trips together.”
The royals are expected to arrive at LAX on Friday afternoon for a weekend of events in Los Angeles highlighted by a visit to Santa Barbara.
Established in 1911, the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club is the third-oldest polo facility in the United States and showcases three world-renowned polo fields.
“This club is considered one of the top four in the world, so it is very special,” Holden said.
Asked if Prince William could hold his own against the other professional polo players who will be playing next month, Holden said, “William is a very good club player, as I would like to be again.”