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Noble sports, or how noble and royal families worldwide spend their leisure time outdoor

A certain curiosity (not to say passion) for royal families and in general for the world of high nobility has always existed and is – to a certain extent – quite comprehensible. In recent decades, it cannot be denied that the approach to royal families has changed substantially: anything but inaccessible, like anyone else in the age of social media. The Windsor family, for example, embodies the perfect combination of rigid secular etiquette and family everyday life, which has won over the public time and time again.
Princess Diana enjoying some leisure time
A new form of popularity, certainly started with the "fairy tale" escapades of Princess Diana, and now continued, post after post, by the relationship between William and Kate. A story that has been able to catalyse the attention of the "people", from their first dates at university to their third child, and that has transformed the idea of analysing, with the help of expert in the fields, every detail of the live wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, into something not only accepted, but widely followed.

A new entertaining method for the big public that turned out to be even better than reality shows on the lives of the "rich". Unlike the upper bourgeoisie, the Windsors (but also the Grimaldis, who from Grace Kelly onwards have been the protagonists of half the tabloids of Europe) are required to maintain, even in the most daily activities, a mannerism that mark a striking difference from the "average" people.

Prince William on a yoga session
This distinctiveness is certainly also evident in the practice of sports: without excluding rugby, yoga and daily jogging, royal members slide effortlessly between horses, sumptuous sailing boats and exclusive ski venues.

What are, in particular, the disciplines most loved by the noblest of the nobles in the world? Let's try to discover it together.

Polo and horse riding, noble sports par excellence

Since time immemorial, horse-riding activities have been closely associated with nobility. Among them, polo has been the discipline of choice for the English royal family. Among the most illustrious polo players of the house of Windsor we can find Prince William, considered a very skilled player (although he was obliged to play with his right hand even though he was left-handed, since polo categorically excludes the use of the left), Prince Charles, his father Prince Philip and his grandfather King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth.
The English royal brothers playing polo
All family members were excellent players of this sport, one of the oldest and most elitist known to date - and it is no coincidence that, apparently, even little Prince George has already been started to practice. This affection can in some way be traced back to what seem to be the origins of a sport now widespread in other parts of the world.

Legend has it that polo was born from the evolution of sabre training, once carried by the English cavalry.

Albert II, ruling Prince of Monaco since 2005, is not only a passionate player, but is also the patron of the Monte Carlo Polo Cup, an event of four days born to celebrate the "sport of kings" in a sumptuous private property a few minutes drive from Monaco, in the village of Saint-Martin de Peille. The event, according to Francesco Mitrano, President of Monte-Carlo Polo Club and Monte-Carlo Polo Federation, for its avant-garde garden furniture, countless white curtains and a DJ playing a mix of chill-outs and lounges music, perfectly represents the values and distinctive cultural elements of the sport.
Polo is - and not by mistake - one of the noble sports par excellence
However, polo also has many admirers among the most eastern ruling houses: Abdul Mateen, tenth and handsome son of the Sultan of Brunei, one of the most sought-after bachelors on the planet, as well as a collector of luxury cars and an Instagram star, seems to be a passionate polo enthusiast.

This comes as no surprise, as the passion of royal families for horses is timeless. At more than 90 years of age, Queen Elizabeth continues to ride with impeccable style in her park on the Thames, with the only concession of a scarf knotted around her neck instead of the usual "cap", the special rigid headgear traditionally used to protect the head. Out of the English royalty, considering the Olympic silver of Zara Tindall, daughter of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips and granddaughter of the Queen, and the pony that Prince George has started to ride from an early age, the only stranger to this common passion seems to be Kate Middleton.

The Duchess of Cambridge sailing with New Zealand's national team
A diversity caused by an alleged allergy that, however, has not prevented the Duchess from engaging enthusiastically in other disciplines. According to the chronicles, Kate was happy to practice athletics during high school. Talented sailor, at least as talented as her husband, in 2014, during the Royal Tour of New Zealand, she competed against Prince William in the port of Auckland, with Team NZ.

From sportsmen to sports protectors, the patronage Europe’s royal families

The Duchess of Cambridge is currently following the well-known tradition that sees the royal family engaged in promoting the practice of sport among younger classes (starting with Prince Philip who founded in 1956 the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, a program of sports awards for children, which since then has expanded to 144 countries).  Since 2013, she has been the Patron of SportsAid, an organization that supports training, equipment, travel, competition and accommodation expenses during the first, often critical, years of career to promising and very young athletes, generally between 12 and 18 years of age.
Prince Harry is a passionate sportsman; among others, he loves polo and rugby
With the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the charity that Kate leads with her husband William, the Coach Core program was developed, which aims to implement accessibility and quality of sports coaching and mentoring in schools in some cities, in turn training young people in sports teaching within their communities. Prince Harry also contributed to the development of this programme, combining his well-known passion for rugby with his passion for supporting sports talent.

The Duke of Sussex indeed spent much of his sabbatical year in 2004, qualifying as a development worker in the Rugby Football Union (RFU), with which he then travelled to schools and clubs across the UK to assist coaches in training and to facilitate access to sports for children of all ages and social backgrounds.

The duke of Sussex is pushing rugby towards the youngest generations
Building on this experience which, according to Terry Burwell of the RFU, has led him to empathize a great deal with young English people, in 2013 Harry was appointed Patron of the Rugby Football Union All Schools Programme, and in 2015 Honorary President of England Rugby 2015, as well as Deputy Patron of the RFU. In this role, he has actively supported the Rugby World Cup 2015 as well as the spread of this sport among a younger audience.

Noble sports passion at the Royal House of Monaco

Skiing is also a discipline commonly loved by royal families. If two cable cars in Klosters, a charming winter resort in Switzerland, bear the name of Prince Charles, Stephanie of Monaco, a sports enthusiast like any other member of the Grimaldi family – winning, among others, the Grand Prix de Gymnastique de la Ville de Paris in 1978 and 1979, is an alpine and water ski lover.

Her brother Albert II, at the same time, participated in five editions of the Winter Olympic Games - from Calgary 1988 to Salt Lake City 2002 - as a member of the crew of the Monegasque national bobsleigh team. The second son of Ranieri and Grace Kelly has distinguished himself over the years in countless other disciplines, including: javelin, handball, judo, swimming, tennis, sailing, squash and horseback riding, becoming the patron of the national team of Monaco.

It’s not just the love for sports that makes the Monegasque family stand out. In 2001, Prince Albert awarded what would later become his wife, Charlène Lynette Wittstock, now Grimaldi. After a gold and silver medal at the 1999 Johannesburg Pan-African Games and the title of African 50-metre backstroke champion, the splendid swimmer and model ended fifth at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, in the 4x100, to arrive first, a few months later, during a competition organised within the International Meeting in Monte Carlo.

Following the award ceremony, which took place at the hands of Albert, Charlène met the then Crown Prince in the hall of the Tulip Inn. A black Rolls Royce was waiting for them in front of the hotel, while the Crown Prince asked her to spend the evening with him. "I must ask the permission of my coach", was, according to the newspapers, the legendary answer of Charlène, who the following day also managed to lose the ticket on which the prince had pencilled his phone number.

Monaco Ruling Prince Albert II and his passion for sports... and sportswomen

The most ludicrous noble sports of the English Royal Family

However, monarchs would not be nearly as interesting without some ancient whimsy, unthinkable to the most. This is the case, for example, of Pigeon Racing, a discipline beloved by the Windsor family. Highly trained birds compete to cover a certain distance (from point A to point B and back), in the shortest possible time.

A pastime that owes its birth, on English soil, to a gift from King Leopold II of Belgium, who, in 1886, donated a nest of racing pigeons to the English royal family.

If you are wondering where it is possible for a group of birds to challenge their speed against a stopwatch, Queen Elizabeth, quickly found a solution. For her pigeon races, she has specially set up a part of the garden of her estate in Sandringham. You know what they say, don't you? There is always time and place for your passions.

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