Prince Harry will today host a charity polo tournament in Colorado as he makes his first public appearance since going on parental leave following the birth of his second child with Meghan Markle.
The Duke of Sussex will attend the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup in Aspen, with his appearance announced one day after it was revealed he planned to restart more in-person charity work with his Archewell Foundation.
The outdoor sports match will be held to raise funds for the charity’s work supporting vulnerable children in Southern Africa who are impacted by extreme poverty, inequality and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
His appearance – which comes two months after Lilibet Diana’s birth on June 4 – was announced by the Sussexes’ close friend and media partner Omid Scobie, who tweeted this afternoon: ‘Prince Harry is back on the field.’
Harry also made a brief appearance a fortnight ago juggling in the background of a video released by Meghan on August 4 to celebrate her 40th birthday alongside Hollywood actress Melissa McCarthy.
Today’s tournament will be smaller than in previous years due to coronavirus restrictions, but Harry has pledged to donate £1.1million ($1.5million) to it from the proceeds of his upcoming memoir.
It comes after Mr Scobie said yesterday that the Sussexes plan to enter a new ‘era of visibility’ this autumn, with a more ‘intentionally public’ life, adding: ‘They’re a couple who do very well in those moments of human interaction.’
The couple are said to be gearing up for a busy few months and are ‘really excited’. Mr Scobie added: ‘They need to be on the ground… they say that the proof is in the pudding, and what we are about to see is that pudding.’
The Duke of Sussex takes part in the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup at the Roma Polo Club in Italy on May 24, 2019
Sentebale said the tournament ‘serves as the single largest fundraising moment for the organisation to advance its mission on behalf of young people in need in Lesotho and Botswana’.
Harry, who is the co-founding patron of the charity, said today: ‘Our refocused mission at Sentebale is about addressing the most-immediate needs of vulnerable children in Southern Africa, helping them access vital health services, receive necessary care, and build skills to be more resilient and self-sufficient in the future.
‘We are incredibly grateful to our gracious hosts in Aspen, to ISPS Handa and the many other sponsors, and to everyone involved in making this year’s match not only possible—but most importantly, as safe as possible for the protection of donors, players, staff, and the entire community.
‘The Sentebale Polo Cup is critical to securing the funds needed to advance this important mission, and I’m thrilled to be able to support Sentebale, both in person and financially through a separate charitable donation to meet this immediate need.
Royal author Omid Scobie is a trusted media contact of the Sussexes and co-wrote their biography Finding Freedom
Harry also made a brief appearance juggling in the background of a video released by Meghan earlier this month on August 4
‘This is one of several donations I plan to make to charitable organisations and I’m grateful to be able to give back in this way for the children and communities who gravely need it.’
Sentebale ambassador and Argentine polo player, Nacho Figueras, will join the Duke on the field playing on the Sentebale Team against the Royal Salute and US Polo Association Teams in a round-robin tournament.
A spokesman for Senebale said: ‘Like many charities, we understand how much the pandemic has impacted communities everywhere.
‘This match has always been the single largest fundraising opportunity for Sentebale, and because last year’s Polo Cup was postponed and this year’s was significantly and rightfully reduced in size and scope, the organisation is in need of further support to continue its mission.
‘To help meet this need, The Duke is donating his time as well as honouring his personal commitment to donate a portion of his proceeds from his upcoming memoir by generously committing $1.5million to Sentebale.
Prince Harry during a visit to a herd boy night school constructed by Sentebale in Mokhotlong, Lesotho, in December 2014
A teenager hugs Harry during a visit to the Kasane Health Post, run by the Sentebale charity in Botswana, in September 2019
‘We are enormously grateful for The Duke’s personal contribution, which will allow us to continue operating at full scale and continue providing critical services to at-risk youth in Southern Africa.’
Last year’s Polo Cup was postponed due to the pandemic, but a reduced version will take place this year with ‘significantly fewer guests than in previous years’ and the full programme being held outside.
Organisers added that there will be ‘rigorous guidelines around vaccine requirements, testing, and the wearing of masks’ – although they did not expand on the nature of these vaccine requirements.
Sentebale also said they had worked with the Pitkin County Public Health Department and received guidance from a leading infectious disease epidemiologist Dr Anne Rimoin, from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Dr Rimoin said: ‘The mission of Sentebale is more important than ever. They are addressing an urgent need in an extremely vulnerable population that has been made even more so as a direct result of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Josh Vance, an epidemiologist for Pitkin County, added: ‘The Pitkin County Public Health Department has worked closely with organisers of the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup and Dr Anne Rimoin to ensure the highest level of Covid-19 safety protocols are implemented to keep all patrons and staff safe.
Harry plays with two children while visiting an organisation supported by Sentebale in Maseru, Lesotho, on December 8, 2014
Harry wears a Santa hat with orphans from the Mants’ase Children’s Home in Lesotho with Sentebale in December 2014
ISPS (The International Sports Promotion Society) Handa was founded by Dr Haruhisa Handa in 2006 with the aim of furthering the ‘transformative power of sport across the globe’, according to Sentebale
Dr Handa said: ‘ISPS has supported Sentebale since 2014. The match has raised much-needed awareness and funds for the mission to empower some of Southern Africa’s most vulnerable children, all while becoming a stalwart fixture on the global polo calendar.
‘We are thrilled to see the impact of this effort spearheaded by The Duke of Sussex and Prince Seeiso.
‘ISPS Handa believes in the power of sport; it has the power to change the world, create a better society and break down cultural and societal barriers in a way that nothing else does.
‘ISPS passionately shares Sentebale’s vision to see the children and youth in Southern Africa be empowered, healthy and resilient. ISPS Handa is excited and impressed by Sentebale’s continuous work, in both Lesotho and Botswana, that enables vulnerable children and young people to live and thrive.’