Naphalai's Diary: July 1-14
Hi, I'm back. Apologies for skipping a week, but nothing much happened during the early part of that week. Then on Thursday, I was flying again to London, my second trip there this year. Yes, I do go to the British Isles quite often but with a son and brother living there, it's always nice to be able to drop by to see them whenever possible. So from Thursday to Sunday I took a break and spent family time enjoying my son's cooking (he's turned out be quite a good cook), playing grandmother to his four-year-old son and visiting some of the sights including Hever Castle in Kent, which is where Anne Boleyn lived as a child before her marriage to King Henry VIII.
Prior to flying there, I had heard about the heatwave in Europe where temperatures climbed beyond 40 degrees Centigrade and wasn't really looking forward to more searing heat coming from Bangkok. But thankfully during the whole time I was there it did not go beyond 25 degrees, which was perfectly comfortable.
On Monday I checked in to the Royal Lancaster hotel where I would be staying for the week at the invitation of the King Power Group. Quite a large group of media from Thailand and guests had been invited for a royal charity polo event in tribute to the late chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Held at King Power’s Billingbear Polo Club, it was an exhibition match with CEO Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha and HRH Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, playing in the King Power team and COO Apichet Srivaddhanaprabha and HRH Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, playing in the Tarmac team.
Security was quite tight, with each of us having to show our passports to register. We were also advised that photography was allowed only during the match, but I couldn't help trying to sneak a few shots of the royals (and not quite succeeding) with my phone as they were seated just two tables away during lunch.
This was quite different from the previous time I had attended a royal polo event with B Grimm CEO Harald Link several years back. Prince William was playing then and we were in a line to be introduced to the prince and I even got to shake his hand. Anyway, the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex were also there with their children—Meghan had brought along her two-month-old son—but they were on the far side of the polo field and away from the rest of us, although some paparazzi managed to get shots of them.
The late Vichai used to play polo with Prince Charles and later the two princes as his own sons also took up the sport. It was an honour for King Power and the Srivaddhanaprabha family to have both princes join in this match which was won by the King Power team. Group chairman Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha presented the Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Memorial Trophy to the winning team. A total of one million pounds was raised from sponsors for 15 royal charities supported by the two princes. According to Aiyawatt, this is the fifth time the King Power Royal Charity Polo has been organised but never on such a large scale as this one. This was indeed fitting tribute to his father.
With such a large group, it was not an easy job to organise flights for everyone resulting in the media having to stay longer than expected. But we weren’t complaining as a full schedule had been planned for us, with visits to the Victoria and Albert museum, Bibury village in the picturesque Cotswolds area and the Bicester Village outlet centre for shopping. We were also treated to meals at some great restaurants, including Hakkasan, Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill and Novikov at Mayfair, as well as Horapha Thai Cuisine at Bayswater and Le Pont de la Tour at Tower Bridge by the Thames.
All too soon it was time to make our way back to Bangkok. Thank you to our hosts, King Power, for an enjoyable five-day stay in London complemented by lots of sun and no rain—quite unusual indeed!
Previously: Naphalai's Diary: June 24-30