As part of Amy’s British Empire Medal Award, we were invited to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. So, last week on the 28th May, we got dressed up in all our finery (or as close to finery as two ladies from South East London can manage!) and headed out.
First on the agenda was breakfast at Giraffe near where we live. I absolutely LIVE for their pancakes and as the Garden Party didn’t start until three, there was no way I was getting that far without food in me!
For the Garden Party, ladies must wear a hat or fascinator, which was a point of contention for me as I absolutely HATE having things on my head! But we soon found a nice one and I was happy with it in the end.
In true British style, we arrived early to the palace and joined the queue… you didn’t think we were going to get in without a queue, did you? Evidently some folk did as they were showing up at the last minute and loudly exclaiming “THERE’S A QUEUE!” Aaaaanyway. after an hour or so queueing outside on what was turning into an absolutely beautiful day, we were allowed into the forecourt of the palace. What many people don’t know, is that what we see as the “front” of the palace is actually the back, so I was very much looking forward to seeing the actual front.
We then had our ID checked by the police and were once again lined up in the forecourt. I have to say, the armed guards were a little intimidating, but hey… we were about to go into the residence of the Queen of England. Eventually we were allowed through the palace and into the garden. Of course, all the way through the Palace there were people making sure you carried on with everyone else and didn’t spend too much time loitering. It was wonderful to see though. Such a beautiful building. Amy and I are thinking of doing the tour during August so that we can see more of the State Rooms.
Once we reached the other side, all we could see ahead of us was sprawling gardens. There were tents and seats set up, so we headed to find a table and were joined by a lovely Indian couple. We had been told that photography was strictly forbidden inside the gardens, but it turned out that was only when the Queen was present! All other times it was free reign (haha!), so we took a fair few pictures of us chilling out in the Queen’s residence.
Before long, they opened the food tables, which were fantastic. Tiny little cakes and pastries, chicken wraps and cucumber and mint sandwiches (Which are my new favourite things!). There was of course smoked salmon, victoria sponge and cakes with crowns on them. To drink, we had the choice of iced coffee, tea or apple juice in a cup that somewhat resembled a thimble!
The food was all absolutely delicious, and as an ardent afternoon tea fan, I have to say it was all great. The caramel coffee eclairs were a particular highlight, as were the mini battenburgs. My only issue was that the plate wasn’t nearly big enough for me to try everything that I wanted to! It became a sophisticated game of “stack a cake”.
Before long it was time to line up. There were two loooooong lines through the garden – one for the Queen and one for the Duke of Edinburgh. We joined the Queen’s line (which was lucky as they didn’t tell us which was which) and waited and waited… and waited. Before long the band began playing the National Anthem and the Queen appeared at the Palace doors. My first thought was “wow… she’s so tiny!”, quickly followed by “and wearing a LOT of pink!”. No photos unfortunately as the men with the top hats and pointy umbrellas were very clear about the fact that no cameras be used.
People had been preselected to meet the Queen – unfortunately not us – but it was lovely watching how she was so attentive and interested in people. Asking “are you enjoying the party?” and “have you had cake?” Just so personable, which was lovely. So many people who are famous for whatever reason can’t manage that, but the Queen of our country, who is over eighty years of age, can still manage to enquire as to whether her guests have had cake.
After meet and greet it was time for more cake – or so I thought. Turns out the buffet was closed and we now had the choice of water or lemonade. I very much enjoyed sipping my lemonade whilst wandering around the palace gardens. A little later, there was ice cream brought out in vanilla and strawberry flavours. Amy and I took a walk around the garden, which is totally HUGE by the way. We didn’t reach any edges, no matter which way we went.
The flowers were all gorgeous and perfectly maintained and the weather really was very lovely. Obviously being in England that was one of the things we had worried about – especially with next to no shelter in the garden!
Before long it was time to leave – the parties only last three hours which seems like plenty of time but really isn’t long enough. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and one that we will treasure forever. It was amazing to be allowed through to the other side of the gates and into a world that is so different – I certainly don’t have snipers hanging out on the roof at home!
Lovely day, lovely company and a great way to honour Amy’s achievements!