‘Prince Harry is back on the field’: Sussexes’ friend Omid Scobie announces Duke will make first public appearance following Lilibet’s birth by hosting polo match in US for his Sentebale charity… 24 hours after heralding couple’s ‘new era of visibility’
- The Duke of Sussex will today attend the Sentebale ISPS Handa Polo Cup tournament in Aspen, Colorado
- Harry has pledged to donate £1.1million ($1.5million) to tournament from proceeds of his upcoming memoir
- It comes a day after Omid Scobie said Harry planned to restart more in-person charity work with Archewell
- Outdoor match held to raise funds for charity’s work supporting vulnerable children in southern Africa
- Harry also made a brief appearance juggling in the background of a video released by Meghan on August 4
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 Covid-19 restrictions – but Harry, who co-founded the charity, 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
The news was announced by the Sussexes’ friend and media partner Omid Scobie, who said: ‘Prince Harry is back on the field’
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.
‘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.
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
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.
‘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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.’
Meanwhile, lawyers for Harry and Meghan today denied the couple had ‘reignited a rift’ with the Queen after an updated biography claimed they believe she has failed to act over their accusations of racism.
The new edition of Finding Freedom suggests the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were ‘not surprised’ at a perceived lack of action over their claim that a senior royal expressed ‘concern’ about their unborn child’s skin colour.
It says they took exception to a carefully-worded statement from the Queen, following their interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, in which she expressed concern for the couple but insisted that ‘some recollections may vary’.
Days later, Prince William told reporters that the royals were ‘very much not a racist family’ and admitted he was yet to speak to his estranged brother following the Oprah interview. Now, the updated edition of Finding Freedom has claimed that the Sussexes were far from happy at Buckingham Palace’s official response.
But their legal team at Schillings told MailOnline today that it was false and defamatory to claim the couple have ‘reignited a rift’ with the Queen – or to suggest or imply that they have made any statements to that effect.
Their lawyers insisted there were no new developments on the topic and that the claims were from the authors of the book, Mr Scobie and Carolyn Durand, who do not speak for the Sussexes and rely on unnamed sources.
Mr Scobie also tried to clarify the situation, tweeting: ‘Back at this rodeo and, predictably, words are already being twisted. The comments made by a SOURCE (a detail some outlets have purposefully ignored) was about a lack of ownership from the royal institution as a whole. There’s no ‘attack’ against the Queen anywhere in the book.’
Harry and Meghan spoke to Oprah Winfrey in a bombshell interview in March in which they accused a senior royal of racism
The Queen during a military inspection at the gates at Balmoral on August 9, as she took up summer residence at the castle
Prince Harry speaks to Kate Middleton as he walks out of Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle with Prince William in April
An excerpt from the new version of Finding Freedom due to be published in People magazine in the US tomorrow states that the couple believe senior royals have not taken ‘accountability’ – preventing a major thaw in relations.
The extract reads: ‘Those three words, ‘recollections may vary’, did not go unnoticed by the couple, who a close source said were ‘not surprised’ that full ownership was not taken. ‘Months later and little accountability has been taken,’ a pal of Meghan’s added. ‘How can you move forward without that?’ ‘
The new version of Finding Freedom will be out on August 31
Earlier today, MailOnline also reported on how the updated version of Finding Freedom said Harry and Meghan have no regrets about leaving Britain and making bombshell claims accusing the Royal Family of racism.
The book now covers Harry’s return to the UK in April for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral – and says he bought a one-way ticket as he hoped he might be able to speak to his family directly, without staff being involved.
It claims Harry spoke to his brother Prince William three times in all during the visit, as well as briefly chatting to his father, Prince Charles, after the service. He also enjoyed ‘precious moments’ with his grandmother, the Queen.
The biography, which was a glowing portrait of the Sussexes by Mr Scobie and Ms Durand first published in August 2020, concludes that the trip ‘broke the ice’ and that the door to a rapprochement is now ‘slightly ajar’.
Stating that Harry and Meghan have no regrets about their actions, despite the toll on their family, the book says: ‘What started [as a] fairytale romance became a story that reinvented the genre – a self-made, independent woman playing an equal role alongside her knight.’
The excerpt to be published in People also claims the couple felt nervous sitting down with chat show host Oprah but had decided that they needed to speak up now, or never.
‘There were so many things they were unable to say [before stepping back from their royal roles],’ it reads.
Although the Sussexes have insisted they did not co-operate directly with the book’s authors, the level of detail – and claims by both the writers and publisher, Harper Collins, that they had access to the couple’s close circle of friends and associates – has led some to claim that indirect help was provided.
Mr Scobie attempted to clarify the situation in a tweet today, following his comments published in People online yesterday
Harry joined his brother William at Kensington Palace on July 1 to unveil a statue they commissioned of their mother Diana
The book’s authors have said, however, that Finding Freedom is ‘independent and unauthorised’ and that the couple did not speak to them about it.
The new version is set to be published on August 31 – the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. It contains an updated epilogue covering the Oprah interview, the death of Prince Philip, and the Sussexes’ plans for the future.
Omid Scobie spoke to People magazine ahead of the re-release of Finding Freedom in paperback this month
In an interview with People magazine, co-author Mr Scobie appears to suggest that Harry is not keen to ‘move on’ unless there is ‘accountability’ from ‘a number of individuals involved’ – including members of staff from ‘the institution’ as well as some relatives themselves.
Describing the situation as ‘complicated’, Mr Scobie said: ‘There are people within the family who [the Sussexes] are much closer to today than they were a year ago.
‘But in terms of Harry’s relationship with his father and brother, that progress has been very little. I think he is quite willing to own his part in everything, but I have been told that he is waiting to see some of that on the other side – and as of now there hasn’t been that.’
Mr Scobie adds that the California-based couple have learned to ‘prioritise their mental health’ and keep ‘some of the toxicity’ at an arm’s – and ocean’s – length away.’
After a period of parental leave following the birth of their daughter, Lilibet, the couple are apparently gearing up for a busy few months and were ‘really excited’ about the next chapter of their lives.
Mr Scobie added: ‘They seem to be existing in a different place, and that place is much healthier. Meghan famously spoke about that it was not enough to survive – we are now in the thrive chapter.’
He was referring to the duchess’s infamous interview with ITV news anchor Tom Bradby in which complained about the difficulties of living in the royal spotlight, saying: ‘It’s not enough to just survive something. You’ve got to thrive.’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex volunteer with Baby2Baby at a school in Los Angeles, California, in August 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend an engagement in London in March 2020 before they stood down as senior royals
He also said that the couple had been afraid of ‘the consequences of stepping away and challenging the system’, but the birth of their son, Archie, ‘gave them that energy to stand up for what was right for them’.
Mr Scobie said the couple were planning to expand their charity work through the not for profit arm of their organisation, Archewell, which is also the vehicle for their lucrative Netflix and Spotify deals.
Buckingham Palace did not comment on the book’s content last year. A spokesman declined to comment last night on the latest claims.
On Tuesday, Harry and Meghan issued an extraordinary statement in response to events in Afghanistan and other global crises, declaring: ‘The world is exceptionally fragile right now.’
Declaring themselves ‘speechless’ at recent humanitarian disasters, the couple also managed to pontificate at length on their website about how they had been left ‘heartbroken’ and ‘scared’ about the earthquake in Haiti, new Covid variants and the continuing global health crisis.
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