HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein, FEI President from 2006 to 2014, was awarded the prestigious Longines Ladies Award in a unique ceremony at Hampton Court Palace (GBR) last night.
Global horse sport industry leaders gathered on the eve of Royal Ascot in the historic Great Hall for the Longines Ladies Award, which celebrates the achievements of women who have consistently succeeded at the highest level within the horse world.
Princess Haya was honoured as the sole recipient of the 2015 Longines Ladies Award by the jury of Louis Romanet, Chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), Nathalie Bélinguier, President of the International Federation of Gentleman and Lady Riders (FEGENTRI) and FEI President Ingmar De Vos.
Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President & Head of International Marketing at Longines, addressed the guests: “We are here to celebrate the extraordinary career of an exceptional, unique and elegant lady. An Olympian, a humanitarian, a United Nations’ Messenger of Peace, and former President of the International Equestrian Federation. Of course, I am speaking of Her Royal Highness Princess Haya.
“Many of us in the room have had the immeasurable pleasure of working alongside Princess Haya. Millions more people around the world will experience the positive impact she has had on equestrianism - the sport she loves, the sport we at Longines love - for generations to come.
“She has transformed the wealth and profile of the International Equestrian Federation. She has shown the same fearlessness in tackling controversial issues for the sport as she did as a rider. Her outstanding elegance as a competitor, a leader, and a woman working tirelessly for the good of equestrian sports is why Her Royal Highness Princess Haya is the winner of the 2015 Longines Ladies Award.”
Princess Haya, who last December joined HRH The Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbón (ESP), HRH The Princess Royal (GBR), and HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh (GBR) as an FEI Honorary President, said she was humbled to receive the award in front of so many friends.
“It’s a massive honour to be the winner and the recipient of this award”, Princess Haya said. “I have so many people to thank and I accept this award on behalf of the many women who have helped me along the way, and of course the many men. The fact is that horses bring out the best in people and it’s all about working together. And Longines will always be the cement that unifies our two families of racing and horse sport.”
HRH Princess Haya received the 2015 Longines Ladies Award consisting of a Longines pocket watch: the Longines Equestrian Pocket Watch Horses Trio 1911. The model that served as an inspiration for this 18-carat rose gold very limited edition is a Longines pocket timepiece dating from 1911 with a cleverly crafted background depicting a trio of horses. The heads of these three proud animals stand out against a background of delicately worked foliage.
"The Longines Ladies Award recognises the success and achievements of elegant women at the very highest level of the global horse sports industry," FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “HRH Princess Haya has had a profound and long lasting effect not only on equestrian sport and all those involved in it, but also on countless women outside the sport, who have been inspired by her determination, her strength and her integrity.
"The Longines Ladies Award is a wonderful tribute to her consummate sportsmanship and leadership both on and off the field and her ability to empower individuals and communities around the world. It is an honour for me, the FEI Family, and the many supporters around the world of Princess Haya's tireless dedication in supporting and growing equestrian sport worldwide to be a part of this celebration.”
Louis Romanet paid tribute to Princess Haya’s role in promoting collaboration at the top level of equestrian sports: “She was a very good and very elegant show jumping rider before becoming an outstanding President of the FEI for eight years. Princess Haya was elected as the first President of the International Horse Sports Confederation which we created together in 2014 as a formal vehicle of cooperation between the FEI and IFHA.”
“Princess Haya has a spirit of competition and excellence. She especially illustrates this in her elegance as a woman, the way in which she ran the FEI, which she directed marvellously well. Her noble way and her class have shown us this,” Nathalie Bélinguier said.
Solidarity in Sport
On behalf of the guests attending the Longines Ladies Award evening, Longines made a donation to FEI Solidarity, the FEI’s global sport development programme and brainchild of Princess Haya.
FEI Solidarity, which focuses on providing opportunities for the next generation of athletes, and all those working in equestrian communities around the world so that local structures can be established to develop the sport, was launched in 2011 and is inspired by the Olympic Solidarity model.
“As with Olympic Solidarity, FEI Solidarity now plays a fundamental role in the fabric of the FEI and the growth of equestrian sport around the world,” said Ingmar De Vos, who took over as Chair of the FEI Solidarity Committee last December.
“FEI Solidarity was created by Princess Haya and, thanks to her brilliance, the FEI is now helping many global communities to pursue Olympic and Paralympic dreams. This is a living and highly successful legacy from Princess Haya, and we give heartfelt thanks to Longines, a major supporter of athletes around the world, for their donation tonight.”
The first Longines Ladies Awards were held in 2013, when a jury chaired by actor and Longines Ambassador of Elegance Simon Baker awarded prizes to Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Athina Onassis de Miranda and Sophie Thalmann at the famous Château de Chantilly (FRA) on the eve of the Prix de Diane Longines. Four leading women in the equestrian world, Sylvie Robert, Criquette Head-Maarek, Jing Li and Bo Derek were then honoured in 2014 by the jury that included Longines Ambassador of Elegance Kate Winslet.