I still can’t believe it. Even walking through the aptly named Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace, dressed to the nines and suitably hatted, the lovely Miss R and I turned to one another and squealed with shocked delight. We were walked through probably the most famous gates in the world as invited guests for an afternoon of tea, promenading and beautiful hats.
Having tea at the Buckingham Palace Garden Party was quite simply the coolest afternoon ever. Ever.
Every year the Queen throws three garden parties at the Palace for ‘guests from every walk of life’ invited by the government, armed services and charities, usually nominated for services they have provided.
Somehow this year we (a friend and I) remembered to enter our embassy’s electronic ballot and somehow managed to secure a place. There may have been a happy dance. This was even before the gorgeously embossed invites arrived in the post.
Our day dawned clear and bright, the sun high and the clouds cotton soft. We arrived at the main gates nice and early, tourists peering at us as we excitedly queued, adjusting hats and taking the odd (“holy heck we’re going to hang with the Queen”) selfie.
Once in, we walked through the main courtyard, from one side of the palace to the far garden, admiring the ornate gilding as we went. The Palace is a simply sumptuous gallery of British opulence.
Spilling out onto the garden terrace itself we settled in for the afternoon with a spot of people watching (oh my, there were some stunning ensembles). There is a strict dress code; Ladies are requested to wear a day dress with hat or service uniform (trousers are not normally worn). Gloves are optional. The dress code for men attending Royal Garden Parties is morning dress or service uniform; however a dark lounge suit is also acceptable.
All accompanied by a nibble on cucumber sandwiches (of course), delicate cakes and a rather smashing serving of Twinings Garden Party tea.
Did someone say cheese, or rather, cake!?
Marquees were dotted over the expanse of green lawn, trees swaying in the breeze accompanied by two brass bands playing alternatively, the tinkling of porcelain and the excited murmurs of guests.
The Queen appeared approximately halfway through the proceedings and was presented to ‘God Save the Queen’ as she stood on the terrace next to the Duke of Edinburgh. The crowd was parted for them to walk through, and selected guests were presented to the royal family members in honour of particular services. They then made their way to their marquee for refreshment and further chatting with guests.
It was also the Duke’s 93rd birthday, and he didn’t seem too happy about it – all of the presented guests were briefed not to mention it. Sweetly the majority of the crowd didn’t know this, and broke into a rendition of Happy Birthday as he and the Queen walked back towards the palace.
We simply couldn’t have wished for a better day.