Polo matches and play dates: inside Prince Harry’s new friend-filled life in California

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After two years of homesickness Harry recently told US television personality Hoda Kotb that he's “got such a great community up in Santa Barbara”. (PHOTO: Gallo Images / Getty Images)
After two years of homesickness Harry recently told US television personality Hoda Kotb that he's “got such a great community up in Santa Barbara”. (PHOTO: Gallo Images / Getty Images)

It’s been two years since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex broke away from their duties as senior members of the British royal family and made California, their home.

At the time of their move Prince Harry's friend Jane Goodall, who is a renowned conservationist, said she'd spoken to Harry, who told her he was finding his new life "challenging".

"I don't know how his career is going to map out, but yes, I've been in touch. I think he's finding life a bit challenging just now," Jane said.

Insiders shared similar sentiments, describing Harry as “homesick and isolated” and battling “cabin fever” while waiting out the pandemic in the $14,7 million mansion he and Meghan bought in Montecito in July 2020.

He's looking more and more like the fun-loving, playful prince of old. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking that recent snaps of the duke beaming alongside his polo teammates were taken years ago.

Harry seemed much like his old self when he was snapped in action with his team, Los Padres, when they beat Klentner Ranch to lift the trophy at the Lisle Nixon Memorial tournament.

The 37-year-old prince has played polo all his life and recently joined Los Padres, a Californian polo team founded by his good friend, Nacho Figueras (45), an Argentine sports star dubbed the "David Beckham of polo".

Despite being sixth in line to the British throne, onlookers say Prince Harry "is just one of the guys" when it comes to his weekend tournaments at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. The club is just a stone’s throw away from the Montecito home he shares with Meghan (40) and their children, Archie (3) and Lilibet (11 months).

"Prince Harry looks so comfortable and happy on the polo field," an insider says, adding that Meghan is "extremely supportive" of her husband’s hobby.

When the polo season in the US started earlier this month, Nacho took to Instagram to share that Harry was officially joining Los Padres.

"My polo team has a platform where we use the sport to raise awareness for charities. Harry's going to be a part of this team,” he captioned the snap of him, Harry and two other teammates looking strapping in their jodhpurs.

"Him and I wanted this team to be very local and to pay tribute to Southern California because of him moving here and paying tribute to his new home. It's going to be a platform for a lot of good things so I'm very excited, proud and honoured to be doing this with him."

Nacho Figueras, Prince Harry, Sentebale CEO Cathy
Nacho Figueras, Prince Harry, Sentebale CEO Cathy Ferrier, Meghan and Delfina Figueras at the Sentebale Polo Cup 2018 in Windsor, England. (PHOTO: Getty Images / Gallo Images)

Nacho, who's been close to Harry since 2007, has actively spoken in defence of the Sussexes over the years.

The father of four attended their Windsor wedding and is an ambassador for Sentebale, a charity founded by the prince which is dedicated to helping children and young people affected by HIV and Aids in Lesotho.

"He's very inspiring to watch," Nacho, a former Ralph Lauren model, says.

Nacho with his wife, Argentine socialite Delfina B
Nacho with his wife, Argentine socialite Delfina Blaquier, and kids (from left) Hilario (22), Aurora (17), Alba (9) and Artemio (12). (PHOTO: Instagram / @nachofigueras)

The athlete isn’t the only close pal Harry has been able to rely on while settling into life across the pond. 

The Late Late Show host James Corden says that he and the prince have become fast friends now that the royal lives just a short drive away from him.

The Brit discussed his growing camaraderie with the royal in a recent interview, revealing that he's hung out at the couple's mansion. 

“It was more a sort of play date scenario [with the kids]. Then we went out for dinner after. It was lovely,” he explained.

James (43) and his wife, Julia Carey, are parents to three children, 11-year-old Max, 7-year-old Carey, and 4-year-old Charlotte.

James Corden and his wife, Julia Carey, attend Meg
James Corden and his wife, Julia Carey, attend Meghan and Harry's wedding in May 2018. (PHOTO: Getty Images / Gallo Images)

The Cats star added that his personal experience with the Sussexes has been "nothing but positive".

"Look, I'm a huge fan of both of them," he said. "Obviously, I know Harry better than I know Meghan but I think it's really hard to judge or be judgmental.

"I have huge amount of respect and admiration for Harry, and anyone who's been around him and spent time with him would feel exactly the same way.

"He's a devoted and loving husband and father and I think what they've done [in turning away from royal life] is incredibly brave. I'll always be in their corner."


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