A weekend of royal pursuits

This itinerary blends traditional royal pastimes with some of the places visited by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they toured their county namesake, visiting Chichester, Bognor Regis, Brighton and Peacehaven in 2018.

The British Royal Family has a long sporting tradition and have been passionate about polo – one of the world’s oldest equestrian sports – for generations. Earl Mountbatten of Burma (Prince Phillip’s uncle) even penned one of the sport’s earliest books.

Polo is just one of many activities nicknamed “the sport of kings,” along with falconry and real tennis, that you can experience right here in West Sussex, often in the same venues enjoyed by royals past and present. The annual Veuve Cliquot cup is one of the summer highlights in Midhurst.

From sport to culture! The Royal Family has long patronaged the arts. The cathedral city of Chichester is the perfect place to indulge in cultural pursuits at ancient altars and contemporary stages that have received a royal nod of approval.

How to plan: This itinerary is designed to inspire you rather than give you a set schedule. Check the dates of sporting fixtures and switch it up accordingly.

Getting around: Depending on where you stay and your chosen sporting pursuit, you may need to hire a car or a taxi. Chichester city centre is compact and pretty; walking it is a pleasure.

Day 1: Sporting pursuits

View across Cowdray Golf Course
Cowdray Golf Course

Spend a day getting to grips with your pick of sports known for their royal following. Choose from polo, cricket, sailing, flying, falconry and real tennis.

King Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh have all taken to the field at West Sussex’s world-famous Cowdray Park Polo Club. Follow the example of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana, who used to watch from the sidelines, and settle in to watch a couple of chukkas (the name given to the periods of time a polo match is divided into). You’ll find the club on the beautiful Cowdray country estate, where you can also play golf and have a go at clay pigeon shooting. Polo season is usually April to September; book your tickets in advance.

Aerial view of Arundel Castle
Arundel Castle

Another sport long intertwined with royalty is cricket. Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth II were avid fans with Prince Philip taking on patronages and presidencies of various cricketing organisations. See what all the fuss is about at Arundel Castle Cricket Club.

The summertime sport has been played here since 1895 when the 15th Duke of Norfolk built the ground in the shadow of magnificent Arundel Castle. You can also visit the castle and gardens. (Open April-October.)

You could pay homage to the Royal Family’s seafaring heritage on a jaunt along the Solent with Chichester Sailing; October to March is the best time to see seals and thousands of migratory birds in Chichester Harbour, a huge natural harbour.

Prince Charles, as he was then, earned his wings at RAF Tangmere in 1969, having started his training there the year before. Nowadays, Tangmere is one of the UK’s leading aviation museums. Check out the photos of Charles on display, explore the moving Battle of Britain Hall, and see an array of memorabilia, radio equipment and aircraft that took to the skies between World War I and the Falklands Crisis. (Open February – November.)

West Sussex Falconry
West Sussex Falconry

If your interest in noble pursuits goes back further, have a go at falconry with West Sussex Falconry – King Henry VIII was obsessed with this sport. Or check out the real tennis at Petworth House Tennis Court. Tennis has been played at Petworth for more than 400 years and some think Henry VIII built tennis courts here even earlier. Don’t go expecting Wimbledon though; real tennis is a completely different sport!

View across Goodwood Estate
Goodwood Estate

Eat & Sleep: Continue the sport theme with a stay at the four-star Goodwood Hotel on the legendary Goodwood Estate. It’s renowned for its epic sporting festivals, including horse racing and motorsports. While you’re there – or even if you stay somewhere else – book a table at the excellent sustainable on-site restaurant, Farmer, Butcher, Chef.

As well as polo, golf and clay pigeon shoots, Cowdray hosts a range of self-catering cottages for two to eight people on the estate and across the South Downs. For food, stock up on delicious ingredients in Cowdray Farm Shop, have brunch in the café, or book B&B accommodation in The Lodge; request The Polo Suite for views across the polo fields.

Perfectly located between the South Downs and Chichester Harbour, The Bosham Boathouse is an award-winning B&B with four bedrooms, each of which has its own entrance. Breakfasts are optional – but highly recommended!

Just to the north of Bosham, Ashling Park Estate has vineyards, a restaurant and beautiful one- and two-bedroom lodges. It would be easy to while away a whole weekend here tasting wine, touring the vineyard, having afternoon tea, exploring the estate and watching the sun set from your lodge. There’s also a Gin School!

Day 2: Cultural pursuits

Chichester Cathedral pictured inside gardens
Chichester Cathedral

Engage your creative side with a day of all things culture in Chichester, West Sussex’s only city. Naturally, you’ll be following in the footsteps of royals, as well as artists.

Queen Elizabeth II first visited Chichester Cathedral in 1956 to dedicate The Sailors’ Chapel and again in 1986. Like our late Queen, you’ll be awed by the ancient structure. The 900-year-old building houses Roman mosaics, Tudor paintings and works of modern art by Marc Chagall and many other famous artists. Join a tour of the cathedral or soak up the uniquely ageless atmosphere at your own pace. (Open daily with restricted hours on Sundays.)

Art lovers should walk the 5 minutes from the cathedral to Pallant House Gallery to see one of the most respected collections of modern British art in the country. Spot works by Graham Sutherland, as well as pieces by some of the most important British artists since 1900, including Barbara Hepworth, Edward Burra and Tracey Emin. Whether you know your Post-Impressionism from your Neo-classicism or not, you’ll appreciate the unusual insight into British history and psyche on offer at this small but mighty gallery. (Closed Mondays.)

People walking out of Pallant House Gallery
Pallant House Gallery

Along the way, browse Chichester’s shops, which include high street giants such as Marks & Spencer and smaller independent shops selling everything from flowers and antiques to locally made jewellery and vintage fashion. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants too.

If your trip coincides with one of Edes House public tours, don’t miss the opportunity to join. This Grade I-listed Georgian mansion was part of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first visit to Sussex in 2018, where Megan was shown one of only two contemporary handwritten ceremonial manuscript copies of the US Declaration of Independence (the other is in Washington DC). You can see a facsimile copy of the manuscript in the Search Room of West Sussex Record Office (closed Sundays and Mondays), or get in touch by email before your visit to see if a special viewing can be arranged.

Edes House, Chichester
Edes House, Chichester

When night falls, catch a show at Chichester Festival Theatre. Queen Elizabeth II visited here three times, the first during its inaugural season in 1962 when none other than Sir Laurence Olivier was the Artistic Director. The passion behind this local theatre with a national influence makes it easy to see why so many celebrities, royals – and hopefully you – have fallen for this creative city and its sporting surrounds.

Looking for more royal inspiration?

Check out our other regal itineraries

Whether you’re looking for ways to celebrate the Coronation of The King and The Queen Consort or if you’re just feeling inspired to spend a few days exploring Sussex, we’ve got plenty of regal highlights to make sure you have a trip you’ll remember forever!