Friday, 1 June 2012

The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by Her Majesty to invite.......

How very exciting to be able to display that invitation to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.  Masters of Livery Companies are invited to a Garden Party during their year and John and I were privileged to attend on May 29. I was particularly thrilled to be attending in the Jubilee Year – I well remember as a child listening to the Coronation on the short-wave radio (!!) in Johannesburg and then going to see a film of the event in the cinema that weekend.

The weather forecast was for thunderstorms but in the event there were sufficient clouds to keep the temperature bearable but the rain stayed away. 

The Mall up to the Palace is closed to traffic so there is always a scrum of taxis around the Palace for a couple of hours before and after. We decided to make a relaxed day of it and had an excellent lunch at the Bank Westminster Hotel in Buckingham Gate (not the only woman wearing a hat and we did spot one or two other men in morning suit).  We then strolled up to join the queue to get in. 

The organisation was superb – would that everything else ran as smoothly.  You would never believe that there were 8,000 guests as the queue to get through security moved very quickly and there were no queues to speak of for tea. The tea was delicious (although I couldn’t find any cucumber sandwiches). According to press coverage earlier this month the average guest eats 14 items – John managed four and I managed three so someone is eating an awful lot.

The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family arrived and we learned (from the TV news in the evening) that it was the Duchess of Cambridge’s first Garden Party.  She looked stunning and her pale pink dress perfectly complemented the Queen’s lavender dress and coat.  Once they had walked through the crowds everyone relaxed and, I suspect, went back for more tea and cakes.

I have driven around the outside of the grounds of the Palace many times but was still amazed at its size.  It occupies 42 acres and the gardens are beautiful. I have seen part of the gardens before when visiting an exhibition at Buckingham Palace a few years ago and will be returning in the summer to see the exhibition, Diamonds: a Jubilee Celebration, (and around the corner to the Queen’s Gallery to see some of the Leonardo da Vinci drawings in the Royal Collection).

We met so many interesting people from all over the UK – most representing charities.  Very moving talking to a group of War Widows who had come from the Isle of Wight: a reminder that many of the people who were there were invited for far from frivolous reasons.

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