Vast Security Team Safeguards Royal Visit to Tiffany-Sponsored Polo Tournament

By Alesandra Dubin July 11, 2011, 4:05 PM EDT

Photo: Sean Twomey/2Me Studios

Foundation Polo Challenge
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You may have heard? The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton, were in California this weekend. The royal itinerary was well publicized and included Saturday's Foundation Polo Challenge, a charity polo match in Santa Barbara. The match benefited the American Friends of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry and the Polo Training Center of Santa Barbara, where the morning marine layer gave way to a quintessentially idyllic California day.

Such a high-profile visit—and such closely watched visitors—necessitated serious security measures. At the polo tournament at the posh Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, that meant invoking a team including palace security, the U.S. State Department, embassy security, and local agencies including sheriffs, the California Highway Patrol, and police. “There were 30 to 40 security people involved in every walkthrough,” said Jaime Geffen of YourBash!, which produced the event, working with Ambassador Glen Holden, who lives on the property of the polo club, and Andrew Tucker, who is the duke's polo manager. “This is a whole different level of security.”

Each guest at the event—including about 500 at the sold-out V.I.P. level and about 2,000 in all—as well as anyone else on property, was required to submit state or federal I.D. information and date of birth to gain access. Guests were searched before boarding the shuttles from the parking lot; when they arrived at the field, trained dogs sniffed them and their bags before they could proceed into the event. Geffen explained that all vendors were also required to sign confidentiality agreements. The YourBash! team began working on the event in January, before the royal engagement was even announced, and when it was made public in June that the royals would be attending in person, security—and promotional—efforts kicked into high gear.

In addition to the security hurdles, the event challenged producers to integrate a slate of high-profile sponsors, “who are all very high-end, all very used to a high level of branding, and are very specific with their needs,” Geffen said. These included title sponsor Tiffany & Company, as well as Audi, Royal Salute, Jack Wills, and American Express.

Tiffany fabricated custom linens in its signature blue for the luncheon under the V.I.P. tent, where guests dined on a three-course menu designed by Giada De Laurentiis that included California cuisine, with organic, seasonal, and local dishes, as well as family recipes. White linens from Wildflower alternated with the Tiffany blue, and white flowers helped create a Tiffany box look. 

Royal Salute showed off the brand's navy blue and gold colors at the bars, as well as at an outdoor cocktail reception. Sponsor Audi displayed its cars. About 140 banners around the field displayed all the different logos, as did a branded scoreboard. The duke rode on the Royal Salute Foundation team, and Jack Wills designed the jerseys. Pulling the look all together was the serene setting of the venue itself, which used the occasion to mark its centennial celebration amid royal pomp.

As for the match results, it was close, but Prince William's team ultimately won, and he was awarded a trophy and a kiss from the duchess—a coup for photographers and royal fans in attendance, who had come to the event in British-inspired finery including a broad array of hats and fascinators. Afterwards, William and Kate got into an Audi A8L and drove to their helicopter for their later engagement at the Bafta Brits to Watch event at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, flying above the traffic congestion created by their visit to the state.

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