Prince Harry and Meghan accused of 'deliberate indecision' on Jubilee

Royal experts say Prince Harry and Meghan’s ‘deliberate indecision’ over Queen’s Jubilee is ‘damaging’ the monarchy – after Duke signed up for FULL polo season that clashes with Bank Holiday weekend

  • Duke of Sussex, 37, will play the rest of a 12 goal polo season at Santa Barbara in California with teammates
  • Meghan’s friend Omid Scobie says Harry will participate in Folded Hills Pope Challenge between May 9-15 
  • Duke to also play in Lisle Nixon Cup from May 20 to 29 and Cheval Athletics USPA Intra-Circuit from June 3-19
  • Bank holiday is on Thursday June 2 to Sunday June 5, and polo matches are on Friday and Sunday afternoons 

Prince Harry’s ‘deliberate public ‘indecision” over whether he will attend the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations is causing damage to the monarchy, royal experts said today amid reports he has pledged to play a full season of polo in California – running across the bank holiday weekend.

The Duke of Sussex, 37, who was pictured playing polo last week, will play the rest of the 12 goal polo season at Santa Barbara, California, with his Los Padres teammates, Meghan Markle’s friend Omid Scobie has claimed. 

The Finding Freedom author says Harry will participate in the Folded Hills Pope Challenge between May 9 to 15, Lisle Nixon Cup from May 20 to 29 and the Cheval Athletics USPA Intra-Circuit which runs from June 3 to 19.

His commitment to the June tournament could mean that Harry is not planning to attend the Jubilee – but he could still attend main events if his schedule permits. The Jubilee bank holiday begins on Thursday June 2, running to Sunday June 5, with royals expected on the Buckingham Palace balcony at either end of the celebration. 

But royal experts said today that the delay in confirmation is deliberate on Harry and Meghan’s part, and they are encouraging the uncertainty ‘because their status and income depends on constant mention in the media’.

Royal author Tom Bower told MailOnline: ‘There have always been serious doubts that Harry and Meghan would come to the celebrations. Firstly because as private citizens they could not be in the spotlight on the balcony.

‘Secondly because Princes Charles and William are furious about their lies about them in the Oprah Winfrey interview and, after Harry’s recent NBC interview, no longer trust him and Meghan to behave properly. Third, because Meghan hasn’t got the courage to face Kate after her misleading allegations in the Oprah interview.

‘Meghan fears the bad headlines if she returns to Britain. However we don’t know how the continuing argument among Palace officials and the Royal Family will finally be resolved.

‘They encourage the uncertainty because their status and income depends on constant mention in the media. They are addicted to preening their self-importance. Unfortunately the damage their deliberate public ‘indecision’ is causing to the monarchy is impossible to prevent. It’s all part of their financial strategy.’

Meanwhile the Queen’s appearance on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to mark the finale of the celebrations is ‘by no means guaranteed’, a well-placed source has said. The polo matches in Santa Barbara are played on Friday and Sunday afternoons, The Telegraph reports. It is not known whether Harry has shared his plans with the royals.

Speaking about the prospect of him missing the Jubilee, royal author Angela Levin said today: ‘Harry’s priorities of polo over Jubilee blow away any hint he really cares about his grandmother, whatever excuses he comes up with. Many people will be relieved he stays away but not the most important person of all – the Queen.’

Harry could still return for the Trooping of the Colour on the Thursday, but he has not yet given a public indication he will do so. He has previously said he is not able to come back to the UK with his family safely unless there is a change in his security arrangements – but the Sussexes would enjoy full security, along with other royals, at jubilee events. MailOnline has contacted the Sussexes for comment. 

It comes just days after the the Queen’s grandson, who lives in a $14m mansion in nearby Montecito with wife Meghan, 40, and their two children Archie and Lilbet, beamed throughout a friendly game of polo with his old friend Nacho Figuera at Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club for the annual Harry East Memorial Tournament.

Prince Harry completed a a friendly game of polo with friend Nacho Figuera in Santa Barbara, California, over the weekend

Harry on his polo pony during the chukka he took part in last weekend. He has now reportedly signed up for the whole season

Nacho, who has been described by Tatler as the ‘David Beckham of polo’ and ‘one of the most recognisable players in the world, has actively spoken out to defend Harry and Meghan over the years (pictured, with Delphine in 2018) 

Harry (pictured second from left) will play the ‘entire 12 goal polo season’ with his Los Padres teammates, claims Omid Scobie

The Queen, Meghan and Prince Harry watch a flypast from the Buckingham Palace balcony on July 10, 2018

Nacho said he was ‘thrilled’ to have had the opportunity to ride alongside Prince Harry in the caption of a snap he posted on Instagram.

Sharing the picture, which was taken by his daughter Aurora, Nacho wrote: ”Thrilled to be riding alongside my friend, Prince Harry, and the rest of the Los Padres team at the @SantaBarbaraPoloClub’s Harry East Memorial Tournament.

New volunteering award to recognise youth charities for Jubilee 

A new Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award for Volunteering has been introduced to shine a spotlight on charities working to empower young people.

The one-off addition to the annual Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) has been created in honour of the monarch’s 70 years on the throne.

Twenty winners will be selected from charities helping 16 to 25-year-olds in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland or across the whole of the UK.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: ‘Since The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was set up 20 years ago to commemorate the Golden Jubilee, thousands of hard-working local volunteer groups across the UK have been recognised for benefitting their communities.

‘We’re delighted to be extending our recognition this year to some outstanding national charities through this special Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award for Volunteering.

‘We want to celebrate the important work done by national charities to empower young people with the skills they need to develop and grow.

‘This is a fitting way to recognise the 70 years of selfless service Her Majesty has given to this country.’

Sir Martyn Lewis, the QAVS chairman, said: ‘It’s a theme that’s important to all of us and is close to Her Majesty’s heart.’

The jubilee award is open for applications until June 17.

A judging panel has been set up with civil society sector experts and youth representatives including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and chief executive of UK Youth Ndidi Okezie, and the winners will be announced in October.

The QAVS is the highest award given to small volunteer groups across the UK.

‘We’ve ridden together many times over the years and now that we’re both parents, it’s extra special to be able to spend this time together.

‘The name Los Padres was inspired by the proximity of the field to the Los Padres National Forest and also by our connection as fathers.’ 

Having enjoyed watching the event alongside Nacho’s wife Delphine, and her close friend Markus Anderson, it is likely Meghan may continue to support Harry at his upcoming matches.

Tickets for the polo matches, which will take place at the third oldest polo facility in the US, have already begun to sell out.

The Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club has attracted beginners and advanced players since being established in 1911.

Nacho, who has been described by Tatler as the ‘David Beckham of polo’ and ‘one of the most recognisable players in the world, has actively spoken out to defend Harry and Meghan over the years.

The father-of-four attended the Sussex wedding and has played polo alongside Harry in various polo matches.

He is an ambassador for Sentebale, an organisation founded by the prince which is dedicated to helping children and young people who or whose families suffer with HIV and Aids in Lesotho, South Africa.

He appeared on Ellen’s show in September 2019 to announce that he would ‘defend his friends’ with his life.

During the interview he also described Meghan as ‘incredible’, and revealed how she ‘gave up everything for the man she loves’.

Last year he launched a selection of six fragrances, including one named ‘Windsor’, which hinted at a ‘brotherhood of kindred spirits’ with the Duke.

Harry’s polo schedule emerges following reports that the Queen’s appearance on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to mark the finale of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations is ‘by no means guaranteed’.

It was hoped the Queen might appear on the iconic balcony beside other members of her family, but that now looks in doubt due to the 96-year-old’s restricted mobility. Aides are busy devising a ‘plan B’.

An insider said: ‘It could still happen but it is by no means guaranteed that we will see the Queen on the balcony during the Jubilee.’

Appearances on the famous balcony, which overlooks The Mall, has been a focal point for historic Royal occasions.

Royal newlyweds have appeared there to share a kiss for the crowds below and the Royal Family traditionally gathers on the balcony to wave after the annual Trooping the Colour parade.

Queen Elizabeth II gesturing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on June 5 2012, with son Prince Charles and grandson Prince William. Her Majesty’s appearance on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to mark the finale of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations is ‘by no means guaranteed’, a well-placed source has told The Mail on Sunday

The Monarch is joined on the Buckingham Palace balcony by members of the royal family for the Jubilee in 2019

Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh waving from the balcony for the Jubilee in 1977

Every jubilee year of the Queen’s reign has also featured a balcony moment, when various members of her family come together to watch an RAF flypast. But courtiers fear that the tradition may come to an end in June.

The warning comes just days after plans for the Jubilee People’s Pageant on Sunday, June 5 were released. It will culminate in a ‘national tribute’ led by the singer Ed Sheeran.

The first recorded balcony appearance came when Queen Victoria stepped out to greet the public during celebrations for the opening of the Great Exhibition in 1851. 

For the Golden Jubilee in 2002, Brian May, guitarist with the band Queen, performed the national anthem from the Palace roof. 

A decade later, the Diamond Jubilee featured a slimmed down Monarchy on the balcony comprising the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. 

Some members of the Royal Family were reportedly dismayed at being excluded.

A source said: ‘One aide had a call from the Duke of York demanding to be reinstated and another from the Wessexes, who were clearly smarting at being excluded.’

Now there are more difficult decisions, including whether to feature the balcony moment at all if the Queen is unable to be present.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh waving from the balcony after Her Majesty’s Coronation in 1953. Appearances on the famous balcony, which overlooks The Mall, has been a focal point for historic Royal occasions

Prince Andrew is highly unlikely to appear given his departure from public life after the settlement of a civil court case in America over allegations of sexual abuse, which he vehemently denies.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also stepped down from their Royal roles, which would seem to automatically exclude them from playing an official part in the Platinum Jubilee, although they may still attend. The Queen is yet to meet her great-granddaughter, ten-month-old Lilibet.

During the recent Invictus Games in the Netherlands, Harry told a US television network: ‘I don’t know yet. There’s lots of things with security issues and everything else. So, this is what I’m trying to do, trying to make it possible that I can get my kids to meet her.’

But a non-appearance on the balcony by the Queen would solve one problem by putting an end to family squabbles over who ought to stand alongside her.

Andrew is said to be jostling for involvement in the jubilee and is expected to continue to attend family gatherings. But questions are being asked over what constitutes an official jubilee engagement.

Friends with a prince and master of the king’s game: Inside the fabulous world of Nacho Figueras and his Ralph Lauren model wife

Argentinian Ignacio Figueras (known as Nacho) may be one of the top polo players in the world, but he has earned a few other credentials to his name, from fashion model to philanthropist and is a close friend of the British Royals. 

The professional polo player, who holds a 6-goal handicap and an estimated net worth of $30 million, has been modeling for Ralph Lauren since 2000.

But modeling was never the goal for the athlete, who began his career just to earn some extra cash and bring more attention to his beloved sport. It all took off when he was approached by photographer Bruce Weber at a party in The Hamptons hosted by Calvin Klein’s ex-wife Kelly, who encouraged him to get his start in modeling.

Strike a pose: Nacho recently traveled to Rome, Italy, ahead of participating in the Sentebale polo charity match, which Prince Harry is a co-founder; pictured in November 2018

While that avenue of his career has introduced his objectively handsome face into everyday homes via glossy fashion magazines and television commercials, the game of polo has always been his true passion. 

Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he started playing the game at the ripe age of 9 years old after his father introduced him to the sport. He became a professional polo player by the time he was just 17. After a stint in Europe, he ended up at the White Birch Polo Team based in Bridgehampton, New York. 

But Nacho’s love for both polo and investing in charity work is what ultimately led him to his most famous relationship.

He and Prince Harry share some common interests, one of them being, of course, polo. 

The pair have been playing alongside each other in charity matches for the past decade, ultimately moving them to becoming close friends.

Score! Nacho congratulates Prince Harry after scoring during the Sentebale Handa Polo Cup charity match in Rome; pictured May 2019

Polo for charity: Nacho Figueras and Prince Harry hold the trophy after the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup, which helps raise funds to support children and young adults affected by HIV in Lesotho and Botswana; pictured in June 2017

Both Prince Harry and Nacho regularly play in Sentebale’s charity matches to raise funds for Sentebale, an organization co-founded by Prince Harry that supports children and young people affected by HIV in southern Africa.

Nacho shared that he even met the newest member of the Royal family in London ahead of the match, Prince Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, if that is any indication of how close the two are. 

Along with forming a special friendship with Prince Harry, the game of polo also brought him to his wife Delfina Blaquier, the daughter of an Argentinian polo player. 

The pair first met, fittingly, at a polo match in Buenos Aires in 1997. They started dating in early 1998 and welcomed their first son in 2000, and wed in December 2005. 

The couple now has four children together: Hilario; Aurora; Artemo; and Alba.

Raise a glass: Nacho and Delfina recently attended the 12th Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey; pictured in June

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