Wait, Prince William had twelve polo ponies and he’s mysteriously given up polo?

Cambridges at Maserati Polo

Since they were little kids, both Prince Harry and Prince William have ridden horses and played polo. Their father loves horses and Charles played polo well into his 40s, and he encouraged his sons to take it up as well, even bribing them with polo ponies and all of that. From what I’ve heard over the years, Harry is better on a horse and he was always better at polo, although William was very competitive about polo too. Because of the pandemic, most of the summer polo matches were cancelled last year, and maybe this year too. I’ve idly wondered if Harry left his polo ponies behind in the UK, or if he gave them to someone or what happened there. Now it seems like Prince William has given up polo? It’s very bizarre. From this curious Talk of the Town gossip item:

After deciding to give up his polo ponies, I can report that Prince William has replaced them with a huge painting made by a friend that now hangs in his home. And intriguingly, Wills gave a copy of the painting to his brother Prince Harry, who has swapped polo for yoga.

Artist Madeleine de St Pierre Bunbury, 25, tells me: ‘Prince William commissioned me himself. He gave up playing polo and was getting rid of his ponies, so he asked me to paint them all together. He gave a copy to his groom and his brother. I know him as we met on Mustique and our parents are friends. It took a month to complete the project as there were 12 ponies. I’d rather not say how much it cost, but I cut him a deal,’ added Madeleine who, as my photo shows, must be the only artist who paints standing on a horse!

[From The Daily Mail]

There’s so much to this short little story. One, did Harry genuinely give up polo or are they just being snide about his move to California? Two, did William even announce that he was giving up polo? Three, why would William commission three copies of his polo ponies, one for himself, one for his now-unemployed groom and one for Harry? This is so random, I guess it’s true. Did William send some giant painting of HIS polo ponies to his brother? WTF? Oh, and William had TWELVE polo ponies??

Anyone got a theory about why William has given up polo? My guess is that he simply got bored with it, especially since he’s no longer “competing” with Harry. I also think William is a secret squirrel who wanted to have more “private time” for his extracurricular activities.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge   at the Maserati Royal Charity Polo Trophy at Beaufort Park on June 10, 2018 in Gloucester, England

Cambridges at Maserati Polo

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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106 Responses to “Wait, Prince William had twelve polo ponies and he’s mysteriously given up polo?”

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  1. Merricat says:

    My theory is that Charles wanted William to trim his expenses, so William sold the polo ponies that belonged to him AND his brother, and sent Harry the painting as a keepsake. Same for the groom, which I can sort of see as a sentimental kind of gift. That would be a retort to Charles, I suppose, since he was the one who pushed polo in the first place.

    • fani says:

      i think that’s a great take on the matter. Polo may have been something they all shared in a meaningful way and letting go of the ponies was a big deal.

    • MF1 says:

      Ooof. Yeah, that would be a huge FU to Charles.

    • clomo says:

      Excellent point, in combination with Kaiser’s point of it probably lost it’s joy as they are middle aged, Harry is in Cali and the whole shit that went down, maybe, just maybe there is hope the brothers will be on friendlier ground in the future. Maybe as they age they will start to see what’s truly important in life, Harry has, but will Will?

  2. Snuffles says:

    I think the most interesting part of that story is that William sent Harry a painting.

    I could care less if William has given up polo. I wonder if Harry has. Santa Barbara has a very posh polo club. I could easily see Harry taking it up again locally when things become safe again. Like throw a Sentebale fundraiser and invite his homeboy Nacho to participate.

    • SarahCS says:

      Yes please, get Nacho there. He’s hot and totally had Harry’s back which made him so much hotter.

      • Mooney says:

        Oh yes. They and their wives make the awesome Fab Four. And imagine if both families bring their kids too 😍. Something tells me Delfina would be more warm and doting towards Harry’s kids.

    • shenrong says:

      Nacho has spent the summer polo season in Santa Barbara in the past. I would not be surprised if Harry shows up to stick and ball, security is pretty good there… but I doubt he’s going to play any tournaments.

    • HeyJude says:

      I could have sworn Harry was already spotted at the polo club in Santa Barbara once touring around, like very early when they moved out there. (Don’t take that as gospel though, cause I can’t recall where I saw it.)

      • clomo says:

        I remember Will and Kate being out there, Kate wore a nice dress that day. I remember because my mother lives nearby and I read her local news. Not sure about Harry, I’ll ask my mom and she can probably find out. In fact she could find out all sorts of stuff, my parents are close to the county sheriff and many locals and seem to know what’s up with all the local celebs, they owned a club there once they would hang out at.

      • Steph says:

        This sounds familiar except the polo part. I remember something about him having a meeting/lunch with someone rich at an ultra exclusive country club. It might have been a polo club.

      • Becks1 says:

        @Steph – that was about 6 weeks ago at the…I can’t remember, lol, but it was an ultra-exclusive members only club and Harry met with Wallis Annenberg.

        I don’t remember him visiting the polo club in SB, but I did just google it and I learned that according to the tabs, its not a concern anymore because apparently Meghan banned Harry from playing polo anymore because there is a group of “rich polo girls who go after men even if they’re married.”

        I’m dying. I’m sure that’s exactly what happened.

    • PrincessK says:

      That would be great! Harry playing polo in Santa Barbara would raise huge sums of money. Sponsors would be falling over themselves.

  3. Moxylady says:

    He’s not competing against Harry so it’s not fun anymore. Also I bet he sold Harry’s ponies. They probably owned them jointly

  4. JT says:

    Didn’t Harry’s friend Nacho say that they had plans for some charity polo matches? I haven’t seen anything that said Harry gave it up and Santa Barbara has a polo community so it wouldn’t be impossible for him to continue. Just because William does care to do it anymore doesn’t mean Harry feels the same way.

    • Cecilia says:

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if in the future harry would return to the UK for the summer and plays a few polo matches whilst he’s there.

    • Woke says:

      Yes he said that, the person who wrote the article was being rude about H move to California. You can play polo and do yoga.

    • Rita says:

      Nacho had said in a article there was a plan to play a Sentebale charity match with Harry last year the pandemic put pay to that I’m sure they will reschedule when the time is right I think William saw the head wind as regards playing polo no Harry to compete with and the possibility of Harry and Nacho staring in Santa Barbara polo match surrounded by Hollywood stars raising more money than they would have in England was enough to make William retire from polo.

      • Snuffles says:

        That would be AWESOME!! And you know Hollywood would turn the fuck OUT for it! It would be like the Kentucky Derby with Swag.

    • Yvette says:

      @JT … I came here to say the same. I thought one of the draws of Montecito for Harry was the Polo Club nearby. In fact, I thought he had previously visited the area when playing polo at the club for a charity event (or was that William?). The point is, people develop relationships with their horses so Harry might have horses of his own and may not have used William’s.

      • Snuffles says:

        I wonder if they would build stables on their property and raise some horses. They could hang out with the chickens and dogs. 😛

      • JT says:

        @Yvette I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Harry was spotted there and I hope he does an event in Santa Barbara. For starters, it’s so beautiful over there and the backdrop would be perfect for polo. Harry hosting a charity polo match would raise so much money and bring in a lot of media attention not only to the charity, but to the sport as well. I wasn’t familiar with polo until I saw Harry looking like a snack at match. I imagine it would be the same for many Americans as we don’t watch any other sports but basketball, football, etc.

  5. Enny says:

    Maybe Wills was “playing polo with the guys” in addition to his rose bush extracurriculars, and Kate told him one or the other? But the whole painting thing is, you’re right, so bizarrely random it has to be true.

  6. souperkay says:

    So, I think there is truth to this but it’s a combination of things. Charles gave William & Harry use of his polo ponies when he gave up polo himself around 2005. William & Harry’s beloved polo pony died right off the field in 2010.

    Because Charles owns the ponies, I don’t think Harry could take any he would have considered his to Canada or California.

    Knowing Harry can’t have the ponies, knowing it’s a way to poke at both his father and his brother, I could see William both giving up polo & commissioning this painting as a f–k you to both of them. Harry because he loves horses and polo and he can’t do anything about it, and Charles because his ponies are now gone. Ponies/horses that are well cared for can live for 30-40 years and I cannot imagine that royal ponies have had substandard care. So William disposed of something his father & brother both were close to and adored. The painting, denying Charles a copy, making sure Harry gets one is an especially cruel touch. I’m sure he did not in any way offer or inform Harry that he was getting rid of the ponies, leaving him only a painting, not even a picture.

    Part of it might be William’s avoidance of any more trauma “they’re just going to die like Drizzle” but most of it is spite.

    • equality says:

      But could William sell them without Charles’ permission. My thought would be they technically still belong to Charles, especially since he is likely the one paying for their upkeep.

      • souperkay says:

        I don’t think he technically could however his entitlement as the heir probably meant he just bullied everyone until they were gone. Also a way to needle Charles, I got rid of your precious ponies what are you going to do about it sort of thumbing his nose at his father.

        The article I found about Drizzle’s death indicated that the ponies belonged to the royal family of Wales, so they weren’t really Harry or William’s but I think William just bullied the stable staff until they were gone.

    • Mac says:

      Polo ponies only compete until about age 10. I believe players use three ponies per match since the game is so hard on the ponies. My guess is that the ponies have all reached retirement age and William doesn’t want to train new ponies if he is getting too old to play. Having their portrait made is a nice way to remember them.

      • Becks1 says:

        Thanks for this info, I know basically nothing about polo lol. So if the ponies were getting up there in age (in terms of competing at matches) and William isn’t playing any more, then retiring the ponies (and not getting new ones) makes sense.

      • BooyahB!tches says:

        These are the simple facts; everyone’s forgetting William is nearly 40, and he’s not going to start training ponies, or riding new ones, at his age. Nor would he have sold them without discussing it with Charles and Harry. Harry’s not going to ship older ponies over to Santa Barbara for when the Polo Club reopens after Covid: he’ll train new ones there. Everyone’s a bit gossipy and basing all their “I thoughts” on what sounds like Daily Mail gutter articles…

  7. Jais says:

    Hmm who’s Madeleine the painter that William met in mustique? Lol

  8. Escondista says:

    He might be getting too old. I’m 37 and I’ve given up skateboarding. I can’t afford to get hurt and I realize that isn’t his problem in the financial sense but, in his mind, I think william is fairly misogynist and would feel like he looks weak if he injured himself.

    • MonicaQ says:

      I’m 35 and gave up football. Sometimes the body just says, “No no no, not today.”

    • BooyahB!tches says:

      I don’t know how giving up playing a sport like polo at the age of 39 makes you a misogyinist, that’s a bit of a reach….but yeah, it’s too old for such physical sports…

    • MJM says:

      I suspect this is the main reason. Charles gave it up I believe after an arm injury.

    • Natters5 says:

      I agree, its for safety reason. You don’t want the future king of England needlessly dying from a whack on the head in a polo match. Its like Hollywood doesn’t want its most sort after actors doing things dangerous.

  9. equality says:

    I don’t think the royals kept individual polo ponies but the family had a string of ponies that Charles, Harry and William all used. The one who died during a match (Drizzle) was described as used by Charles and then by Harry and Will and all were kept stabled near Highgrove. Charles gave up polo, Harry left and apparently Will gave up polo so the ponies are being sold. That would explain sending a picture to Harry but I wonder why not one for Charles.

  10. (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

    Hmmm…. anyone else remembering when we were all thinking “hot Polo Baby” from that shot of Meg (in that denim dress) kissing hot, sweaty Harry after that polo match?

    Harry may still wanna play occasionally for charity for a kiss like that 😉

    • Cecilia says:

      I know EXACTLY what pictures you are referring to and i hate the fact that there’s no video. But i guess pics are fine. When i saw those pics for the first time it was solid confirmation that these 2 can’t keep their hands of each other. Lord know he was never like that with Cressida, especially not in public

  11. Becks1 says:

    I wonder if the 12 polo ponies were for him and Harry? Maybe gifts from Charles or something? That seems like a lot of horses for polo but I have no idea what is normal for these people. Why would he give a painting of them to Harry if they were just William’s ponies? And does this mean he’s hanging up his polo equipment for good? that seems strange bc polo seemed like something William enjoyed – gets to play a sport and say its work bc he’s raising money for a charity.

    I do like the bit about meeting on Mustique….feels like a while since the press has talked about the Cambridge vacations there…..

    And rolling my eyes at the part about Harry trading polo for yoga. Considering he played in a polo match in Italy shortly after Archie’s birth, and then things were shut down last year – I would not be surprised if he participates in a polo tournament this summer or fall in CA. When is the “polo season” anyway?

    • Cecilia says:

      About the painting: these people are weird. Maybe he gave one to harry as a “peace” offering. You know, as a substitute for an actual apology? Im not sure i find this whole story so random.

      • Becks1 says:

        I admit this is the sort of royal story I love, where it’s just a random insight into a completely different world that I cannot imagine lol.

      • ArtHistorian says:

        Portraits of horses is something that historically is closely associated with the British aristocracy. In the mid-18th and the early 19th century horse portraits became an entire subgenre in painting because English aristocrats wanted portraits of their race horses displayed at their estates. George Stubbs made an entire career out of horse portraits. Look up his 1762 life-size portrait of Whistlejack, a race horse that belonged to the Marquess of Rockingham. It is at the National Gallery in London and it is really a splendid painting.

      • windyriver says:

        The racist painting W&K famously had hanging in their LR during the Obamas visit highlights two horses (also an exotic dog), which as per @ArtHistorian above, was my theory about why they/Kate selected it for their apartment (even though the artist who painted it was Dutch). The young black boy who is described in the title is holding on to them.

  12. Cecilia says:

    Maybe he just felt like quitting since he’s nearly 40? Its nowhere near “old” but maybe he felt like he was getting too old? Idk. And i doubt Harry gave up polo. He just hasn’t been playing due to the pandemic. If im not mistaken there’s a polo club in Santa barbara. Maybe we will see him and nacho play some in the future

  13. helonearth says:

    Maybe the ponies belonged to both of them? Harry could have left his ponies to William when he moved.

    Polo is very demanding and dangerous – you need to be fit and have excellent coordination. It could be that they both realised they would rather spend time with their growing families and/or other activities that don’t require as much effort.

    • goofpuff says:

      We don’t know if Harry gave up polo. Harry is very fit and there are posh polo clubs in Cali. I wouldn’t trust Will’s word on anything about Harry. Will though is not fit so he definitely couldn’t sustain it.

  14. Alarmjaguar says:

    That last line though-that makes me think it is all a joke. Is this even a real painter?

    • Alarmjaguar says:

      Well, Google confirms she is real (seriously, first name is a cookie, last name Bunbury?) and horse-crazy 12 year old me wants one of her paintings!

  15. Over it says:

    Maybe the rage monster contacted the herp from all his extra curricular activities and riding hurts. Lolol.

  16. A says:

    The number of polo ponies isn’t as weird as maybe it looks. He played pretty competitively which means he probably used 4 per match, maybe more. They sprint up and down a lot and tire out quickly, and it can be dangerous to push a horse like that. To keep the horses healthy and the game fast, players swap their horses out at least once a chukker, and rest them for at least a chukker before swapping them back in.

  17. Aang says:

    Could be age. My husband was an avid motocrosser. At 48 he tore his ACL, had surgery, recovered, and went back to the track. First time back he tore the other one. That was it, his riding days were done. He now collects and restores vintage bikes. He’ll still take a low key ride around his favorite off road forest trails but nothing like what he was doing before. Maybe William had a scare that made him decide to give it up before he was seriously or chronically injured.

  18. Sofia says:

    It’s possible they were both his and Harry’s horses and William decided to give it up (probably because he’s getting too old for the sport) and Harry’s unlikely to take the horses with him so he commissioned a painting of the horses before selling them hence why he sent one to Harry.

  19. Hyacinth Bucket says:

    A trained Polo Pony costs up to $200’000. He had 12 of them. Decided to lose them and splurge on a picture of them for the profit. Upside, the picture doesn’t eat hay and require paying a groom. Everyday problems, we all have them. That should endear him to the regular folks at home.

    (Excuse me, while I go and open a bottle of Scotch. It’s three in the afternoon here, that’s the perfect time for a bottle of Scotch).

    • Saucy&Sassy says:

      Hyacinth Bucket: My first thought was that someone wanted money. Didn’t the brf have to tighten their belt because of the pandemic? For some reason, I believe that Harry is the better player? I could definitely see W not playing if Harry isn’t there to compete against. I can also see PC selling the horses to turn a liability into money. I can’t help but think that PC was the one who sold these horses and not W. I can’t see W sending ANYTHING to Harry, so that’s all very pretty but I’m not buying it.

      I have a feeling we’ll be seeing Harry playing polo with nacho for charity. Since this came from the Daily Fail, I’m not going to believe what they’re saying. Were the horses sold? Probably. The artist said she painted them. But do we know that copies were given to the groom and Harry. NO! They just had to include Harry to get clicks.

    • HeatherC says:

      2.4 million will buy a lot of buttons if Charles really is tightening the belt.

  20. Gah says:

    Madeleine did what a lot of posh Brit kids do when they leave school and aren’t super academic or don’t want to have a job in the City. she went to the Charles Cecil school in Florence- it’s one of the best schools to learn old master painting techniques but it’s also an incestuous Italian tinged frat party w naked artist models and alcohol…

    So all in all super fun and then you can charge your aristo friends gobsmacking amounts for portraits of people/horses for their houses.

    I went to lectures there and dropped in on the occasional class when I lived in Italy in my 20s.

    I would have given anything to study there full time and still have a year there on my bucket list.

    • Lucy says:

      Love learning tidbits like that! Looking at her Insta, the Duke of Marlborough has commented on pictures about how excited they are she’s coming, which made me laugh. Truly a different world.

  21. Calibration says:

    Ordinary Bill is a competitive a-hole and there’s no one to play games with any more. He’s bad at everything. No surprises

  22. Catherine says:

    Harry either gave up or sold his polo ponies years ago but continued to ride and play for charity events. He actually made a reference to this when they were in Morocco. When they were touring that stable he talked about how much he missed his having his horses. But he certainly did not give up polo as he not only played in events with William but he had a polo fundraiser every year for Sentebale. And yes Nacho on two different occasions has said that there was a planned polo event for Sentebale in 2020 that was supposed to take place in the US. The swapped polo for yoga was definitely snark. It’s amazing how they can’t write anything about William without bringing up Harry. My guess is William is giving up Polo because he is concerned about his ability to raise money on his own without Harry. The events with Harry always raised more money. And Harry always raised even more money on his own. A few years ago there was a big announcement about the brothers doing fewer polo events but really what happened was there were fewer joint events. My guess is that the Sentebale events were better organized than the KP run joint events. I also buy into the idea that without Harry to compete with polo just doesn’t have the same appeal for William. Whether Harry continues to play polo or not I think just depends on how much opportunity he has to ride. He is no longer living on an estate where he can just pop over to the stables and he has easy access to polo ponies. There is a Santa Barbara Polo Club. I would love to see Harry get hooked in with them and do something charitable related to making riding more accessible or creating something like the Work to Ride program that Kareem Rosser is involved with. The painting part of the story is just weird to me. Are we supposed to believe that William shipped a painting to Harry even though we know they weren’t speaking. And Harry made it clear that even when they did speak it didn’t really accomplish anything. It’s just bizarre.

    • Rita says:

      William didn’t want to be upstaged by Harry raising more money than him Harry will play polo in Santa Barbara to raise money for Sentebale with Hollywood stars in attendance William can’t compete with that.

      • PrincessK says:

        William knows that without Harry he will not be able to draw the crowds and sponsorship for charity polo matches.

  23. sunny says:

    12 is not an unusual number of polo ponies. In matches players routinely switch out their horses several times to keep them fresh(I learned this from a friend who got super into polo). That is part of the reason the sport is so expensive to play.

    That being said, I wonder if William was never that mad about horses in the first place and was just into the competition aspect of the sport?

  24. ClaireB says:

    It seemed like most of William’s polo matches were for charity, so it doesn’t surprise me that as he has aged, he’s decided to quit doing those too.

  25. Amy Bee says:

    This story is just weird and is a symptom of how bad the British press is. Poor Richard Eden has to put out any story he can find or create to keep his job.

  26. Amelia says:

    Not me immediately thinking of ‘My little Pony’ when I read ponies 😂

    *Cue William dork dancing with his little ponies and tiny colourful watering cans skipping in his own la la land of rose bushes and filled with sunshines and rainbows.

  27. Louise177 says:

    It’s weird that the artist ran to the tabloids about this. I would think anyone who works for the RF wouldn’t blab about personal stuff.

  28. Murphy says:

    Why the eff would you “cut him a deal”?! He has seemingly bottomless wealth

  29. Likeyoucare says:

    I think Willie is broke. Maybe he had spent his inheritance on middleton family.

  30. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    Wow!!!! She’s a fantastic painter!!!!
    I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler so I am always and forever jealous (in a good way) of artistic talent.

  31. Sunday says:

    This entire story seems like the plot of a noir movie – someone placing a secret message in the newspaper in an innocuous yet odd article, or a secret clue hidden inside a painting somewhere. Barring that tinfoil indulgence, it’s either a super passive aggressive dig at Harry, or William is not long for this plane and he’s distributing his worldly possessions.

  32. Beech says:

    I know bupkis about polo. And until several years ago I though ponies were baby horses. That’s all I got.

  33. Nic919 says:

    I feel like this story is another rose bush story, which started off as kate icing rose hanbury and then became a lot more.

    • Lolo says:

      I agree it has the same vibe. Perhaps PWT needs some cash to make a settlement. Who knows maybe he found a replacement.

    • Becks1 says:

      You don’t think he’s sleeping with the equine artist, do you??!!!?

      • Jais says:

        yeah that’s why I said upthread that I wanted to know more about Madeleine the painter from mustique….no idea but that was my first thought cuz any article with William and another woman mentioned from the press feels like a veiled hint…but I mean it’s a reach lol

      • Nic919 says:

        It wouldn’t surprise me if he was. She seems like the aristo type that would be fine with no strings attached kind of thing.

    • SenseOfTheAbsurd says:

      Yes! That strikes me as being the subtext to this story.

    • goofpuff says:

      Oh good catch! yeah I see it now. Another rose bush story.

  34. Truthiness says:

    Remember the new PR guru Will hired in the wake of the Oprah interview? Or around that time. We just saw the Cambridges saying they were delighted over Lili’s birth and sending gifts, but when Archie was born it was “I already have a nephew.” Now he is giving up a sport that basically screams I am in the 1% and sending a portrait to Harry. PR guru pointing out the obvious?

  35. L4frimaire says:

    I don’t understand the point of this story. The royals buy and sell horses all the time. Seems like promo for a horse artist.

  36. SenseOfTheAbsurd says:

    Are they hinting that William is having an affair with the artist, and the paintings were some kind of pretext for having her around?? I hate to be so insulting towards her, but there’s a subtext, and I wouldn’t put it past the tabloids, or William.

    • Beach Dreams says:

      I wonder that too. I looked her up and she certainly fits William’s type of woman: thin, brunette, plain-looking at best. She’s also aristocratic and we all know he prefers to garden with that crowd.

      • SenseOfTheAbsurd says:

        Thought I was maybe being too cynical, but the hints and tone are there.

      • Nic919 says:

        She is probably fine with the whole friends with benefits set up they have in that set too.

    • swirlmamad says:

      HA! Now I’m all suspect, lol. She “cut him a deal”, all right…..

  37. jferber says:

    The painter is a very pretty woman. So William could have ticked off his father, brother AND wife with this one act of spite and possible lust.

  38. Houghlihann says:

    Kate is famously allergic to horses. Maybe her allergy got worse? Between that and him (and maybe Kate?) having had COVID (which can cause long term lung issues even in mild cases) and hitting his 40s, I suspect it’s too much for him now.

    • Nic919 says:

      William doesn’t care enough about Kate to sell horses for her. Either he’s not interested in polo anymore or an injury just doesn’t make it worth it for him o keep all the horses.

      It’s also questionable that Kate is actually allergic to horses. It’s more likely she just didn’t grow up rich enough to learn how to ride them properly and it’s a good excuse to get out of riding them.

  39. Midge says:

    12 ponies and a traveling equine artist – GTFOH. These people.

  40. Chanteloup says:

    This may have happened years ago? On the painter’s Bunbury Art website, in the midst of all her paintings there is a one of 12 polo ponies – but it’s dated 2018. “String of Polo Ponies 2018 (150x50cm) : SOLD”