Time for some Polo and Afternoon Tea

By Kristina Poluyanova:

The Tiffany & Co. Royal Charity Polo Cup

As a Ukrainian who grew up in Germany and now considers herself to be a Londoner, I’ve always been intrigued by British customs. So imagine my delight when I found out that I have an opportunity to experience the most aristocratic of British traditions – watching a game of Polo (by the way, Prince William was one of the players on the field) followed by a lovely session of afternoon tea.

So let’s start from the beginning.
Having arrived at Newbury station we got a cab to the Sydmonton Court Estate, which is owned by Andrew Lloyd Weber – an amazing composer famous for musicals such as Phantom of The Opera and Cats. I should probably mention that the event is called Royal Charity Polo Cup and is sponsored by Tiffany & Co. this year. It is an annual undertaking with several auctions taking place to support Tusk, Memorial Fund and a few other charities.
As the driver turned on the GPS and started mumbling something about Baron Lloyd-Weber’s estate my thoughts started swirling around two things. Number one was the weather – it was so beautiful and sunny this morning when I woke up, so I was quite concerned by the dark heavy clouds in the sky and the sudden drop of temperature… watching Polo in rain didn’t seem very enticing. Number two was – how the hell is it possible not to die of boredom in a house surrounded by nothing by fields? Well, maybe I’ve just become too much of a city girl making it hard to imagine a life without the usual morning coffee at my favourite coffee shop and the exciting buzz of the city centre.

Meanwhile we’ve arrived at a beautiful white tent, with it’s interior being exquisitely decorated with touches of turquoise – the colour of the main sponsor this year. Outside, a stunning blonde jazz singer was welcoming the guests with “Sway” and it seemed like the first polo match has already started as the players were out in the field.

After having watched Polo for a few minutes, my gaze started to swift towards the constant flow of arriving guests – all looking absolutely stunning in their designer pieces. It was an interesting mix of British aristocrats, successful business people and a few celebrities like Nicole Scherzinger and Tom Brittney.
Luckily the sun decided to peak out between the dark clouds and I suddenly had an overwhelming feeling of blissful joy – the day started to turn out pretty lovely after all.
After the first polo match session was finished everyone was called into the tent for lunch. There were two auctions happening during the day. One of them was silent – each table was equipped with an iPad where guests could put a silent bid on items of their desire, like a signed tennis racket by Andy Murray or a VIP tickets for Madonnas next concert. But the real highlight of the day was the big live auction which was taking place on the stage after lunch. The lots varied between expensive custom-made perfumes, a bunch of luxury holidays and of course a Tiffany & Co. pendant.

I have never been to a live auction like this before, so I found it quite entertaining. I’m still not sure what drives people to “overpay” for items of their desire – is it a a wish to donate to charity, impress their date or just to satisfy their personal ego? Either way, I was quite impressed with the whole show around it – there is a certain element of tension when you don’t know who is going to do the next bid, which made the whole procedure pretty fun to watch.
And just to rise the stakes even higher, Prince William casually stopped by to participate in the afternoon game of Polo. Could it get any more aristocratic than that? And he even stayed after the match to shake hands with a few selected guests and spent a fair amount of time talking to each of them individually (I’m wondering what they could’ve possibly been talking about… weather? the game? family?… who knows…)
To round up the day, it was time for the famous afternoon tea with some macaroons, different kinds of cakes and other tasty deserts. Needless to say – I ate so much I could barely move… sweets are one of my biggest weaknesses.
What a day! Absolutely overwhelmed by the whole experience we made our way back to London silently hoping to come back next year.

Kristina Poluyanova