English polo, once one of that country's most glorious sports, has had a shaky time of it since 1939 when World War II put an end to such frivolities. There are not many Britons who can field a string of polo ponies these days, and when the old Household Cavalry Polo Club was disbanded last October after its grounds were requisitioned by local authorities, the ancient sport received another wallop. But the Queen's horses and the Queen's men are not to be deprived of their traditional game. In January of this year, Elizabeth gave permission for a ground to be laid out on the broad flat stretch of Smith's Lawn in the royal purlieus of Windsor Great Park, just three miles by private road from Windsor Castle. Thereupon a new club was formed, the Household Brigade Polo Club, and the opening tournament during Ascot Week was a triumph for the game and a personal success for its best-known patrons, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, with the large gallery having a spectators' field day under the June-blue English skies.
They saw the Duke, one of the star attractions of the game and a three-goal player, ride with his Mariners team on four of the six days of play. They saw the Queen and Princess Margaret in a bright array of summer fashions, as they walked from royal tea tent to royal box. They saw the Queen Mother, the Duke of Cornwall, the Duchess of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the King and Queen of Jordan. It was as informal as a family picnic, with the royal children scampering about, the Queen and the Duke relaxed and at home in their own backyard.
There were two cups at stake: the Royal Windsor Cup, presented by the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Smith's Lawn Cup, presented by the Household Brigade Polo Club for which all teams knocked out in the first cup struggle competed. The Windsor Cup was won by the favored Ratanada team; the Smith's Lawn Cup by Woolmers Park.
With such enthusiastic patronage of the Queen and the Duke (he learned the game from his uncle, Earl Mountbatten, while with the Royal Navy at Malta), there is hope that polo will be restored to major status in England, supported this time by the gallery rather than by the few and the very rich. With the Duke to draw the spectators, and the Queen to give the land and to award the cups, there seems to be a good chance that this hope will be fulfilled.
September 11, 1955
The queen, in a handsomely tailored brown suit, congratulates Jamaican player William De Lisser of the Ratanada team, winners of the Windsor Cup. She is escorted by the Marquess Douro, M.V.O., M.C., secretary of the Ascot Week Polo Tournament.
Duke of Edinburgh mounts as female groom holds horse. He played with the Mariners who went to the semifinals of the Smith's Lawn Cup. His square-necked jersey is the white and blue of the polo team.
Princess Margaret is saluted by member of the police corps as she enters the new polo grounds in Windsor Great Park. She wears a white silk dress with red dots, and a fuzzy white sweater over her shoulders.
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and the royal children return to their box from the tea tent. The park is only three miles from Windsor Castle and at no other sporting event is the family so informal.