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Prince Charles Relaxes in Argentina

March 10, 1999

HURLINGHAM, Argentina (AP) _ Prince Charles played polo in Argentina on Wednesday, relaxing midway through a three-day visit in which he struck a tone of reconciliation with Britain’s former wartime adversary.

The Prince of Wales also toured the local bank branch of Lloyd’s of London, visited a steel factory and planned an evening reception with descendants of English immigrants after polo at the Hurlingham Club.

``I’ve always wanted to go to a polo match. They say it’s the sport of kings. This time I’m lucky enough to see a prince,″ exclaimed Wouter Berkhout, a 24-year-old visitor from the Netherlands.

The prince, wearing white riding pants and a green jersey with red trim, saddled up for five periods of polo in what was dubbed The Prince of Wales Cup. The competition included local players.

Graham Hortis, an Anglo-Argentine, was among those who plunked down $10 for the charity match on lush fields at the club in Hurlingham, west of Buenos Aires. Argentine and British flags fluttered in the afternoon breeze.

``It’s better than seeing a match anywhere else in the world because this is a blend of my heritage,″ said Hortis.

Tens of thousands of Anglo-Argentines live in greater Buenos Aires, descendants of immigrants who began arriving in the mid-1800s. Some of them founded the suburban Hurlingham Club in 1888 for fox hunting, pigeon shoots and, later, polo pony matches.

Schoolchildren in navy blue blazers and plaid jumpers from English schools thronged the stands alongside landed gentry and local Argentine celebrities.

The relaxed outing stood in contrast to a protest Tuesday, when an angry Argentine throng tried to march on a Buenos Aires hotel where Charles dined with President Carlos Menem and danced the tango with Menem’s 28-year-old daughter, Zulema.

Demonstrators clashed with riot police, who responded with tear gas. Six people were reported injured and police made 58 arrests.

The outburst tarnished the visit of reconciliation by the Prince of Wales, the most senior member of British royalty to visit Argentina since the 1982 war over the Falklands Islands, known in Argentina as the Las Malvinas.

The prince’s visit ends Thursday, when he heads to Uruguay before traveling on to the Falklands.

Menem’s visit was the first by an Argentine president to Britain since the 1982 battle for the Falklands, the remote islands in the South Atlantic that the Argentines claim are theirs.

At the outset of his trip, the prince on Tuesday somberly laid a wreath before a Buenos Aires memorial honoring the 750 Argentines who died in the Falklands war.

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