No Match for a Headstrong Polo Pony, Prince Charles Winds Up on a Real Downer

updated 06/30/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/30/1986 01:00AM

Was a polo pony named Pedro telling His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to get off his high horse, or do these things just happen?

Charles, 37, a skilled four-goal player, didn't have time to ask, as his young chestnut gelding, unnerved by an eight-horse scrum, reared in the Bell's Scotch Whisky Trophy match last week at England's Windsor Great Park. The Prince slid backwards out of the saddle and was deposited bottoms-down on the field, right in front of the reserved seating stands. Whereupon half a dozen spectators immediately—and happily—turned their cameras on him and began clicking away. Propped on his arms, a disgusted Charles remained on the ground for a good 30 seconds, while an impervious Pedro bolted for the far side of the field.

The nasty tumble topped an already off day for Charles, whose side lost to a team led by Charles's polo manager, Maj. Ronald Ferguson, who also happens to be the father of Prince Andrew's intended, Sarah. "I played terribly!" lamented Charles. "I missed every shot I had."

Still, the afternoon was not a total loss. "The press got what they came for, didn't they, when I fell off?" a more composed Charles asked later. "It's all right, it has happened before." It may happen again. But what can you expect from a reining prince?

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