It’s an occasion that often offers rare moments of tenderness, playfulness and even PDA between royal couples – but days out at the polo can also result in plenty of awkward situations.
While the British Royal Family mostlykeep a stiff upper lip, the matches appear to be a time when they can let their hair down.
But fromcringeworthy kisses to Meghan Markle and the Princess of Wales’ tense outing in 2019, the day doesn’t always go to plan.
For instance, in May 2022, the Duchess of Sussex, 41,ended up being squashed between Prince Harry, 38, and one of his teenage teammates as they struggled to lift the heavy winning trophy over her head for a photo.
Here, FEMAIL takes a look back at the awkward moments experienced by the royals throughout polo matches…
Diana turned away as Charles leant in to kiss her
Diana turned away as Charles leant in to kiss her on the cheek at a prize-giving ceremony following a polo match in Jaipur, India in 1992, pictured
The breakdown of Diana and Charles’ marriage was almost confirmed to the world when the princess swerved her head at the moment of a kiss in India in 1992, leaving her husband’s painfully pursed lips making contact with the side of her hair.
Princess Diana turned away as Charles, then the Prince of Wales, leaned in to kiss her on the cheek at the prize-giving ceremony following the polo match in Jaipur.
Body language expert Judi James previously said of the kiss: ‘Charles and Diana looked as though they had no relationship or even connection between them in private.
‘The kiss was clumsy and awkward with no suggestion of a normally-tactile relationship or even chemistry together. There is no synchronicity here.
‘Diana leans forward but also away from her husband and their clutches look misplaced and lacking in any affection.
Charles and Diana also shared atense and distant peck following his polo victory in 1985, just four years after their wedding
‘Diana has deflected the kiss by turning her head away. This rejection means Charles is left to plant his kiss on her hair instead of her cheek.
‘His splayed fingers on her back showed a lack of desire for any form of touch and his ugly grimace as he miss-kisses looks miserable.’
Meanwhile, in 1985, just a few months after the birth of Prince Harry, the couple shared an awkward and distant kiss following Charles’ polo victory.
The couple also looked tense on a number of other occasions, with Diana looking glum as Charles showed off his sporting prowess on the pitch.
Kate made an awkward joint appearance alongside Meghan to watch William and Harry play in 2019 (pictured)
During the appearance, which took place months before Megxit, Kate and Meghan were barely seen interacting – though Prince Louis made the women laugh at one point
Ever the supportive wife, Kate can often be found cheering Prince William on as he takes to the polo field.
She stepped out to support her husband at a charity match back in 2019, when the royal mother-of-three was joined by Meghanto watch William and Harryplay together on a ‘mum’s day out’.
At the time, relations were said to be fraught between the princes’ wives and the appearance isnow believed to have been an effort to put on a united front after months of disagreements between the two couples – including a row over bridesmaid dresses and reported tension over Meghan’s behaviour towards staff.
The Duchess and the Princess put in a surprise appearance to watch Prince William and Prince Harry go head-to-head in the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day, held in honour of late Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha on July 10 2019.
It marked the first time the Sussexes and the-then Cambridges had been seen together as families since Archie’s birth.
It was also a rare joint appearance for Meghan and Kate, who were typically only seen together at official engagements attended by the entire royal family, such as Trooping the Colour.
Going head to head: William, left, and Harry, right, played on opposite teams for the charity polo match in Surrey
At the time, there had been months of rumours of a rift between the two couples – and according to the authors of Finding Freedom, the stand-offish episode at the charity polo match was a snapshot of Meghan and Kate’s ‘cordial but distant rapport.’
Their relationship had reportedly struggled to move past the distant politeness of when they first met, according to the explosive biography.
‘While the doting mothers were photographed next to each other with their children, the two appeared to barely exchange a word,’ the authors penned.
In photographs from the event,Meghan, standing at a distance from Kate and her family, cradled her newborn son and planted a tender kiss on his head.
Meanwhile the Princess spent much of the match keeping her three children, who were racing around the pitch and chasing after a football, entertained.
Despite standing close to each other for part of the match, the women appeared to barely interact.
In one moment, which appeared to break the ice between the two, the women shared a giggle as then-one-year-old Louis donned his mother’s sunglasses before turning back to his aunt to cheekily stick out his tongue.
Duchess of Sussex stuck in the middle
Stuck in the middle: Meghan Markle was on hand to present Prince Harry and his team with a trophy after they won an event at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. But the moment had not been rehearsed and Meghan ended up being squashed between Harry and one of his teenage teammates as they struggled to lift the heavy cup over her head
Ready for the camera!After a few seconds in the shadows at the back of the stage, Meghan stepped to the front of the stage for her moment in the spotlight (pictured)
TheDuchess of Sussex was caught in an awkward moment as she joined Prince Harry on stage at a polo event in May 2022.
Meghan Markle was on hand to present Prince Harry and his team, Los Padres, with a trophy after they won an event at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club.
But the prize-giving had clearly not been rehearsed and Meghan ended up being squashed between Harry and one of his teenage teammates as they struggled to lift the heavy cup over her head for a photo.
After a few seconds in the shadows at the back of the stage, Meghan stepped to the front of the stage for her moment in the spotlight.
Footage of the encounter was shared online by a social media user who noted it looked like they ‘didn’t know where to put her’ and then ended up ‘blocking her with the trophy’.
Harry’s team, which is captained by his friend Nacho Figueras, dubbed the ‘David Beckham of polo’, took home the Lisle Nixon Memorial trophy at the star-studded event, which was open to the public and attracted stars including Rebel Wilson and Meghan’s actress BFF Abigail Spencer.
Meghan, who wore a black wide brim hat, polka dot blouse and 670 high-rise pleated shorts, was on hand to present the prize and pecked each team member on the cheek – before planting a kiss on her husband’s mouth.
Realising some of her lipstick had rubbed off, she took her finger and gave Harry’s lips a wipe in an intimate moment watched by the crowd of spectators.
As seen in the clip, Meghan then maneuvered herself to the middle of the stage, ready for the trophy photo.
Harry appeared to be telling his younger teammates, who are both 16, how the moment should unfold when captain Nacho Figueras, a longtime friend of the Sussexes, reached in and lifted the trophy above his head and passed it to Harry.
The prince then told his young teammates to ‘hold it’.
But the commotion meant Meghan was pushed to the back of the stage. The mother-of-two clapped in the shadows before stepping forward again into the spotlight, pushing underneath Prince Harry’s arms.
William’s VERY awkward pecks on the cheek for Kate
Formal: While the Princess of Wales, 41, frequently offers a ‘love pat’ to William when they’re out at official engagements, the Prince struggled to look quite so at ease with PDAs at the polo in Windsor in July – resulting in an awkward clinch
As the polo crowd looked on, William appeared to go for a controlled air kiss, rather than a public smooch…right: William plants a kiss on his wife’s right cheek
Judging by an awkward kiss at the polo in July 2023, it seemsPrince William isn’t quite so comfortable with overt PDAs as his wife the Princess of Wales, says a leading body language expert.
Kate, 41, watched the Prince of Wales, also 41, play in the Out-Sourcing Inc. Royal Charity Polo Cup 2023 at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor- and the couple partook in a rather formal embrace after the match had finished.
As the Princess of Wales strolled over to congratulate her husband on his performance, with others looking on, he offered the kind of greeting you might give a business acquaintance – an awkward peck on both cheeks.
The Prince clutched his wife firmly on both shoulders and planted the robust kisses on each cheek.
Body language expert Judi James told MailOnline: ‘Kate looks so much more comfortable greeting her husband with an air kiss here but, despite approaching the ritual looking emotionally needy, hunching his shoulders, leaning forward and performing an embrace announcement gesture to register his delight, he keeps things more formal once he docks in.’
James said that while it’s clear’the couple are increasingly less reserved about their PDAs recently, this moment shows William can still be rather self-conscious about them.’
And it may be that gender roles are at play, says the expert.
‘There are three quite practical reasons for his reservations here, firstly the air kiss is a difficult ritual that often mystifies men, then there is the macho spirit of polo, where PDAs with wives are less common, and lastly he must be sadly aware of his fathers iconic but telling miss-kisses with his mother at similar events, putting pressure on him to get it right.’
Kate had offered a supportive pat on William’s lower back earlier in the day, something she’s been seen performing a number of times in the past few months. She playfully tapped him on the behind during their day at the Royal Ascot, and sent royal fans wild when she performed the same gesture on the red carpet at the BAFTAs in February.