At Cartier Polo, the Queen, Kenneth Branagh, and Downton Abbey’s Lavinia Walk into a Bar...

Vanity Fair, 18 June 2012
By Bridget Arsenault

White Cartier tents, white denim, and knee-length white dresses — it was a proper summer garden party. Preposterously handsome young British actor Douglas Booth looked no worse for wear, despite having been in N.Y.C. the previous day and L.A. the day before that. “I love horses,” he told as to why he was attending the event. As to whom he was rooting for? “Last time I came to the polo it was Prince William versus Prince Harry, so it was much easier to choose. It was right after Prince William had been married, so it had to be him,” he said. Speaking of royalty, your correspondent spotted Sophie Winkleman, or Lady Frederick Windsor, looking regal in a navy Chanel dress. And sporting a decidedly less-royal-looking blue was none other than Chelsy Davy, who throughout the day stayed planted at her garden table surrounded by friends and a fog of cigarette smoke, practically unaware of the polo match taking place behind her.

It was a proper British day, with Pimm’s flowing and gray clouds on call. But the rain held off, and guests mingled in the Cartier tent at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park. Party-goers included a loved-up Tom Hughes with girlfriend and fellow actor Ophelia Lovibond; Zoe Boyle (perhaps better known to us as Downton Abbey’s Lavinia); a svelte Dita Von Teese in an eye-catching red dress; Andy Serkis; Irish songstress Kate Melua; and author Jilly Cooper. And although British reality-TV stars Hugo Taylor and girlfriend Natalie Joel were present, they didn’t make it onto the list of “people of note in attendance” that was handed to your correspondent upon arrival.

The lovely young Kaya Scodelario, best known in the U.K. for 'Skins', had just returned to England from filming indie project 'Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes' in America alongside Jessica Biel and Alfred Molina. She’d “never seen polo before in my life. I’m a London girl — Camden — so not a lot of opportunities for horses.” As for what exactly was on her mind? “I’m looking forward to sitting down for some lunch. I’m starving.” Atta girl.

In typical high-end style, said lunch was actually a three-course feast courtesy of former Dorchester head chef Anton Mosimann, and was served in the sumptuous enclosure, which had been made over to resemble a quintessential English garden. Princess Florence von Preussen, who introduced herself to your correspondent as “Florrie,” discussed her role at the high-end furniture store Oka. “We’re shooting the autumn catalogue at the moment,” she told us between mouthfuls of her summer berry jelly.

Post-lunch meant time for sport, and Kenneth Branagh looked to be enjoying the match from the royal enclosure. Surely he felt at ease knowing the Queen was only a few feet away — earlier this week he was knighted by her Majesty. And Nina Clarkin, captain of England’s women’s polo team and widely considered to be the best female polo player in the world, cheered loudly for her husband, John-Paul Clarkin, who played for Ayala against the rival Dubai team. Regrettably, the cheers failed to seal the deal, and Dubai won on a final penalty shot.

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