Tag Archives: Buckingham Palace

The Royal Garden Party

Buckingham Palace Garden Party Invitation

This is my story of the day that I went to Buckingham Palace to visit the Queen.  I first posted it in June 2009 and since then it has become my second most visited blog with almost 21,000 visits.

I have got a different following circle now so I thought it worth posting a link to the story just in case any one is interested…

Read the Full Story…

It’s Nice to Feel Useful (10)

  

Now and again I look back over my posts to review what has been going on.  One of the things that I like to do is to take a look at the search questions that seem to bring web-surfers by the site and take a look at some of the more bizarre and unusual.

royal garden party

One of my most successful posts is about the day I attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party and I get lots of odd Google referrals about this one.  So far this year my favourites just have to be:

  1. who uses diplomatic tent at royal garden party buck palace

I have to say that this is a really easy one to answer – it will be diplomats!  At the Garden Party there are a range of tents all arranged in an appropriate hierarchical order.  At the bottom are the common tents for people like me and you.  Then there are tents for important people like the Prime Minister and his guests and then tents for foreign diplomats and at the very top are lavish affairs for visiting royalty who just might happen to drop in!

  1. how much does it cost to hire Buckingham palace for a garden party

…and I have to say that I  am fairly certain that the Queen of England is not so short of cash that she needs to hire her back garden out for a corporate  event.

But my favourite this time is…

  1. This year’s theme for Buckingham Palace party?

A garden party is a formal affair where guests where their very best clothes. The day that I went there were gentlemen in tails and top hats, women in floral dresses and elaborate hats and it reminded me of a scene from a nineteenth century painting of a sophisticated social event.  And there were so many military uniforms that it was almost like being in an episode of Foyle’s War!

Surely I do not have to explain that  a garden party at Buckingham Palace is not a fancy dress party but then again perhaps someone should have advised Prince Harry when he thought it was amusing to attend a society party dressed as a Nazi!

Prince Harry as a Nazi

I also get a lot of referrals from questions about behaviour – here are a couple of tips about not what to do…

Rowdy Racegoers

Next I have some rather bizarre geography questions:

  1. Is Benidorm in north Europe

And the answer is no, it is in Southern Europe and hopefully my post about Benidorm helped to correct this misconception. 

Benidorm Spain

  1. Liechtenstein is it in Austria or Germany

Actually it is in neither, it is in Switzerland.  It is a boring place, hardly worth visiting but I went there once in 2008 and stayed overnight near the capital Vaduz.  I have to say that I am not surprised that anyone may not know exactly where Liechtenstein is because it is an instantly forgettable place which I once included in my list of disappointing places to visit.

Vaduz Liechtenstien Concrete

“It occurred to me that there is no reason to go to Liechtenstein except to say that you have been there.  If it were simply part of Switzerland… nobody would dream of visiting it” – Bill Bryson,  ‘Neither here Nor there’

  1. where is Europe located next to Italy

What a wonderfully stupid question.  It is like asking where is USA next to Texas? Where is Canada next to Calgary? Or where is Australia next to Melbourne?

Actually, Italy was the first European country that I ever visited when I travelled to Sorrento in 1976!

Italy Postcard

Mine is not a food blog but I am always happy to help out with culinary questions whenever I can and I like this one… should I put vinegar on the chips or not?

I include this one even though I do not find this not such a stupid question.  What you should put on your chips is a matter of personal choice and a subject that I debated quite recently when I considered the origin of frites.

chips

Staying with the food theme I am going to finish this current round up of bizarre search questions with my favourite so far this year:

What was General Franco’s favourite food?

I am sure that this is a question that only his personal chef could realistically be expected to answer with any authority but my suggestions are…

  • Skewered Republicans
  • Roasted Liberals
  • BBQ’d Communists

Some time ago I tried to visit General Franco’s tomb but the Spanish don’t like Franco any more and it was closed at the time on account of the fact that it was being demolished.

When General Franco met Führer Adolf Hitler I can only assume that either they couldn’t agree on the menu or they were both on a diet…

Franco meets Hitler

Thanks for reading and I will do another round up when I have enough material…

… Have you spotted any bizarre search questions bringing unexpected visitors to your blog posts? – Do Tell!

It’s Nice To Feel Useful (8)

Queen Elizabeth

An Invite to a Royal Garden Party…

Around about this time of year a lot of people are receiving invitations to attend a Royal Garden Party at either Buckingham Palace in London or Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh and this always leads to renewed interest in my post about the time I was lucky enough to be invited.

After  Vikings and the Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine  the post is my third most visited with fifteen thousand hits  Most people reading the post arrive there by way of Google with simple search questions like ‘Royal Garden Party’, ‘how to get an invite to a Royal Garden Party’, ‘Dress code at a Royal Garden Party’, etc. etc.

Some of them however really make me giggle!  This one for example: ‘Buckingham Palace Garden Party, where to get changed?’  I think it is good enough of the Queen to invite people to trample all over her back lawn without expecting her to provide changing facilities as well, can you imagine the queue of people trying to get into Her Majesty’s en-suite!  And then there is this one – “do people travel in the clothes they wear to royal garden party?”

The answer is simple, if you are staying in a hotel overnight then get changed around about midday and then get a taxi to the Palace but if you are travelling there on the day then I am afraid you will have to go in your finery and take appropriate abuse from teenagers and beggars on the Underground!

I rather liked this one recently – “how can I go to her majeztrys garden party” and I can only guess that this is from somebody from Poland where they don’t have a Royal family any more.

I also found this one amusing – “is there somewhere for guests to sit down at royal garden parties?” .  Well, there is the throne room of course but it is unlikely that any one will get that opportunity –  but of course there is somewhere to sit down, the Queen as more garden furniture than Home Depot, the Home Hardware Stores or B&Q.

What about this one – “bakingham palace London garden party invite” – presumably the enquirer thinks this is where they film the TV series – “The Great British Bake Off”!

If it Rains at a Royal Garden Party…

Just as last year I have spotted a couple of search questions relating to the weather.  The first is “what do people wear for the royal garden party when it is raining”  which is a question that if you have to ask means that you shouldn’t really be going but I will continue to try and be helpful and suggest a smart raincoat or mackintosh, a sensible hat and appropriate shoes but however bad the weather is don’t expect to be allowed inside in a North Face kagool or a sou’wester and a pair of wellington boots!

Queen Elizabeth with Umbrella

My favourite still remains: ‘If raining does Royal Garden Party move indoors?’ which has to be one of the dumbest search questions that I have ever fallen off my chair laughing at.

There are 8,000 guests at a Royal Garden Party and although the Palace is huge (77,000 square metres) I am fairly certain that the Queen wouldn’t want 8,000 damp people in muddy shoes and wet clothes wandering around over the royal carpets, pilfering the treasures and helping themselves to the gin!  I cannot get this vision out of my head of the Queen making an announcement from the back door, ‘oh do please come inside all of you, you’ll catch your death of cold out there’ or perhaps the more direct Prince PhilipDon’t stand out there getting wet you silly buggers, bloody well come inside!’

Bad weather at a Royal Garden Party isn’t unusual however and there have been washouts in 1931, 1937, 1944, 2000 and 2009.  In 1996 a bolt of lightning hit the garden and two people were burnt and injured.  And it isn’t just rain that can spoil the day because in 1958 there was a heat wave and it was so hot that several guests collapsed with heat stroke and had to be treated in hospital.  There was no such thing as sun protection cream in 1958!

Read the full story…

heavy rain at the garden party

It’s Nice To Feel Useful (6)

Queen Elizabeth

Around about this time of year a lot of people are receiving invitations to attend a Royal Garden Party at either Buckingham Palace in London or Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh*  and this always leads to renewed interest in my post about the time I was lucky enough to be invited.

The post is my third most visited with ten thousand, five hundred hits.  Most people reading the post arrive there by way of Google with simple search questions like ‘Royal Garden Party’, ‘how to get an invite to a Royal Garden Party’, ‘Dress code at a Royal Garden Party’, etc. etc.

Some of them however really make me giggle!  This one for example: ‘Buckingham Palace Garden Party, where to get changed?’  I think it is good enough of the Queen to invite people to trample all over her back lawn without expecting her to provide changing facilities as well, can you imagine the queue of people trying to get into Her Majesty’s en-suite!  The answer is simple, if you are staying in a hotel overnight then get changed around about midday and then get a taxi to the Palace but if you are travelling there on the day then I’m afraid you will have to go in your finery and take appropriate abuse from teenagers and beggars on the Underground!

This year I have spotted a couple of search questions relating to the weather.  The first is ‘rainwear for Buckingham Palace Garden Parties?’  which is a question that if you have to ask means that you shouldn’t really be going but I will continue to try and be helpful and suggest a smart raincoat or mackintosh, a sensible hat and appropriate shoes but however bad the weather is don’t expect to be allowed inside in a North Face kagool or a sou’wester and a pair of wellington boots!

My favourite for this year (so far) however is this: ‘If raining does Royal Garden Party move indoors?’ which has to be one of the dumbest search questions that I have ever fallen off my chair laughing at.

There are 8,000 guests at a Royal Garden Party and although the Palace is huge (77,000 square metres) I am fairly certain that the Queen wouldn’t want 8,000 damp people in muddy shoes and wet clothes wandering around over the royal carpets, pilfering the treasures and helping themselves to the gin!  I cannot get this vision out of my head of the Queen making an announcement from the back door, ‘oh do please come inside all of you, you’ll catch your death of cold out there’ or perhaps the more direct Prince PhillipDon’t stand out there getting wet you silly buggers, bloody well come inside!’

Bad weather at a Royal Garden Party isn’t unusual however and there have been washouts in 1931, 1937, 1944, 2000 and 2009.  In 1996 a bolt of lightning hit the garden and two people were burnt and injured.  And it isn’t just rain that can spoil the day because in 1958 there was a heat wave and it was so hot that several guests collapsed with heat stroke and had to be treated in hospital.  There was no such thing as sun protection cream in 1958!

Read the full story…

heavy rain at the garden party

* Holyrood Palace remains for now the official residence of the Queen in Scotland but I suspect if Alex Salmond gets his own way in September in the independence referendum he’ll be looking to move in there himself while the obnoxious Nicola Sturgeon will no doubt be thinking about Balmoral!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Palace Invite 3

A Letter from the Palace…

One day I returned home from work to find a very posh envelope among the usual bills and letters that had been delivered that morning.  It was very classy indeed, ivory white with a smooth velour texture and certainly of a much higher quality than I am generally used to receiving.

On the front were the words the ‘Office of the Lord Chamberlain’ and the printed franking machine mark in the top right hand corner said ‘Buckingham Palace, London’.

Now, I don’t receive mail from Buckingham Palace everyday so I was naturally intrigued.

Inside the envelope there was even more special stationery and an expensive invitation card from the Lord Chamberlain himself stating that he has been commanded by her Majesty to invite me and a guest to a Royal tea party at the Palace.

Commanded no less!

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

Queen Elizabeth

The Royal Garden Party:

One day in May I returned home from work to find a very posh envelope amongst the bills and circulars that had been delivered that morning.  It was very classy indeed, ivory white with a smooth velour texture and certainly of a much higher quality than I am generally used to receiving.  On the front were the words the ‘Office of the Lord Chamberlain’ and the printed franking machine mark in the top right hand corner said ‘Buckingham Palace, London’

Now, I don’t receive mail from Buckingham Palace everyday so I was naturally intrigued.

Read the full story…

Afternoon Tea With Her Majesty The Queen

Palace Invite 3

One day in May I returned home from work to find a very posh envelope amongst the bills and circulars that had been delivered that morning.  It was very classy indeed, ivory white with a smooth velour texture and certainly of a much higher quality than I am generally used to receiving.  On the front were the words the ‘Office of the Lord Chamberlain’ and the printed franking machine mark in the top right hand corner said ‘Buckingham Palace, London’.  Now, I don’t receive mail from Buckingham Palace everyday so I was naturally intrigued.

Read More…

Royal Garden Party – The Rain of Queen Elizabeth

Rain of Queen Elizabeth

Rain at the Royal Garden Party…

I didn’t get an invite to the Royal Garden party this year because no one is supposed to get a second one.  It was lucky for me that I went last year because this year the first party of the year was severely disrupted by rain.

Someone I know went and he told me that it didn’t really spoil the day because he had already eaten his plate of fourteen sandwiches and cakes that the royal kitchen estimates that each guest consumes and he had seen the Queen by the time the bad weather moved in and he was forced to shelter under one of the large trees in the Palace garden.

He also conceded however that it would have been better without the drenching.

The Queen’s eight thousand guests, most of whom had dressed for warmer weather in fine hats and summer frocks, had to dash for shelter when the summer tea party was hit by torrential downpours.  Half an inch of rain fell in just ten minutes and in all three inches fell in the storm that hit London in the late afternoon.  Hail stones, some almost half an inch wide, left the lawns of the royal residence white with ice and some of the visitors had to be carried from the garden over huge puddles that formed on the gravel paths.

Queen Elizabeth

Luckily, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh had completed their walkabout before the early evening downpour and managed to stay dry but as lightning approached, staff decided to evacuate the Queen and the royal party, which included the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York and the Duke of Gloucester, back to the safety of the Palace

Queen with umbrella

Bad weather at a Royal Garden Party…

Bad weather isn’t unusual however and there have been previous washouts in 1931, 1937, 1944 and 2000.  In 1996 a bolt of lightning hit the garden and two people were burnt and injured.  And it isn’t just rain that can spoil the day because in 1958 there was a heat wave and it was so hot that several guests collapsed with heat stroke and had to be treated in hospital.  There was no sun protection cream in 1958!

I am afraid that there is not much one can do about bad weather and if it rains then I am afraid that guests are just going to get wet.   There is a pavilion tent for the Queen and her family and a large tent where the sandwiches are served but there is not nearly enough room in there for everyone.

There are 8,000 guests at a Royal Garden Party and although the Palace is huge (77,000 square metres) I am fairly certain that the Queen wouldn’t want 8,000 damp people in muddy shoes and wet clothes wandering around over the royal carpets, pilfering the treasures and helping themselves to the gin!  I cannot get this vision out of my head of the Queen making an announcement from the back door, ‘oh do please come inside all of you, you’ll catch your death of cold out there’ or perhaps the more direct Prince PhilipDon’t stand out there getting wet you silly buggers, bloody well come inside!’

heavy rain at the garden party

Royal Garden Party

Buckingham Palace Garden Party Invitation

Tea With The Queen

One day I returned home from work to find a very posh envelope among the usual bills and circulars that had been delivered that morning.  It was very classy indeed, stiff as card, ivory white with a smooth velour texture and certainly of a much higher quality than I am generally used to receiving.  On the front were the words the ‘Office of the Lord Chamberlain’ and the printed franking machine mark in the top right hand corner said ‘Buckingham Palace, London’.

Now, I don’t receive mail from Buckingham Palace everyday so I was naturally intrigued.

Inside the envelope there was even more special stationery and an expensive invitation card from the Lord Chamberlain himself stating that he has been commanded by her Majesty to invite me and a guest to a Royal garden party at the Palace.   Commanded no less!  The Lord Chamberlain is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household, he is a peer of the Realm and a Privy Councillor and is the chief functionary of the court who is generally responsible for organising all court functions.  The current Lord Chamberlain is William Peel, who has held the position since October 2006 and he is a very important man indeed.

Queen-garden-party1--a

How to get an Invitation to a Royal Garden Party…

Ordinary people like me don’t get letters from the Lord Chamberlain everyday and let’s make this absolutely clear, these invitations aren’t just handed out to any old riff-raff.  Getting an invite to Buckingham Palace isn’t easy because individuals cannot simply apply for an invitation to a garden party because nominations are made through Lord Lieutenants, and organisations such as the Civil Service, Armed Services, Diplomatic Corps, charities and societies and people are only allowed to attend one tea party in their lifetime.

What to wear to a Royal Garden Party…

As well as the invitation there was also information on dress code, suits, day dresses and hats, uniforms, but no medals and I took this to include my Boy Scout and cycling proficiency badges.  No cameras or mobile phones and useful security information and tips on how best to enjoy the day.

royal-garden-party

The tradition of throwing open the royal residences dates back to the 1860s, when Queen Victoria held what were then known as afternoon ‘breakfasts’.  It has carried on ever since and during the present Queen’s reign, over a million people have attended garden parties at either Buckingham Palace or at the Palace of Holyrood House, which is her official residence in Scotland.

We travelled down to London by train on the previous evening and stayed at a nice hotel in Bayswater called the Ambassadors that I paid for using my Airmiles points.  We had a pleasant evening out and something to eat in the hotel’s Italian restaurant and a comfortable night and a really excellent breakfast in the morning.

I had no idea that Sally had never properly been to London before so we took the underground to Westminster and quickly did the sights.  The Catholic Westminster Cathedral was very good and free but the Protestant Westminster Abbey was £12 so we just looked at the outside and concluded that Roman Catholicism is better value for money.

Next we walked down Whitehall and craned our necks through the security railings into Downing Street, went into Horseguards Parade and finished at Trafalgar Square and then returned to the hotel and changed and prepared for the big event.  Attending a Royal tea party isn’t cheap of course because this little outing cost me a new outfit for Sally, but it was worth it and she looked fabulous in her new dress and hat.

Visiting Buckingham Palace…

Dressed in our finest clothes and looking our best it didn’t seem appropriate to travel to the Palace by underground train so we ordered a cab and drove through the sights of central London to the Palace and the queue of people waiting to get past security and into the gardens.   Like most guests, I imagine, I am proud to boast that I’ve had tea with the queen but I should point out that there were another 7,999 other people there as well.  With all of the security checks to go through, each guest producing a passport and one other form of identity this was quite a slow process, but the weather was fine and everyone was in good humour as we lined up and waited our turn to be admitted.

The Palace was originally known as Buckingham House and was a large town house built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and acquired by King George III in 1761.  It was enlarged over the next seventy-five years and Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.  Like most people I have stood outside it and gawked through the railings but I have never before been inside.

royal garden party

To get to the gardens we had to pass through the Palace itself and once through and inside the garden it was a wonderful experience and I imagine that tea with the queen today looked very much the same as it would have one hundred and fifty years ago; men in tails and top hats, women in floral dresses and elaborate hats and it reminded me of a scene from a nineteenth century painting of a sophisticated social event.  And so many military uniforms that it was almost like being in an episode of Foyle’s War!

The eight-thousand guests are all vetted of course before the event because the Queen doesn’t want any undesirable republicans or out-spoken anti-monarchists wandering around her back garden spreading sedition and the place was full of people enjoying a once in a lifetime experience.  I doubt if Jeremy Corbyn will ever get an invite.

Buckingham Palace Gardens…

The magnificent gardens sit on forty-two acres in the heart of central London and walking outside behind the Palace the vast garden is a revelation because it is festive and filled with colour and the lake at its centrepiece features weeping willow branches gently grazing the water and ducks flying free.  What is most noticeable is that it is peaceful and serene, except for the chatter of eight thousand people of course, because as if by magic the sounds of the city do not intrude and it is hard to believe this is in the centre of the busy city.  The gardens are immaculate and goodness knows what the head gardener makes of all these people stampeding over his manicured lawns and falling into his flowerbeds.  I expect they give him the day off so that he doesn’t get too upset.

Actually I don’t think the Queen puts the garden to best use because there is enough room there to have a nice nine-hole par three golf course and I am surprised that Prince Andrew has had something to say about that.

Sandwiches and Cake at Buckingham Palace…

The food tents were open for business now and this seemed an opportune moment to make an early dash for the guest’s tea tent to be among the first to enjoy the hospitality.  Actually there was no need to rush because there was plenty of food to go round and the tables looked pristine and immaculate.  I especially liked the little chocolates decorated with the queen’s crown and I was tempted to put a couple in my pocket as souvenirs but the sun was out now and they would have surely melted and made an awful mess of my suit jacket.

At a typical tea party, the kitchens prepare, and the guests consume, more than twenty-seven thousand cups of Twining’s ‘garden party’ tea, as well as more than twenty-thousand carefully trimmed sandwiches (crusts are far too common) and a similar number of delicious slices of cake, so there is plenty for everyone and enough left over to give the ducks a treat as well.

The plates were a cunning design with a place for the tea-cup and just about enough room for a couple of sandwiches and two slices of cake which prevented anyone taking too much food.  Despite this however the Royal Household estimates that each guest eats on average fourteen portions of sandwich and cake.

Cakes at Royal Garden Party

After a short wait the band struck up “God Save the Queen” and her Majesty, dressed immaculately in a pale blue floral print two-piece and matching hat appeared on the front steps with Prince Philip and various others, standing motionless in front of the huge crowd.  As the music died down there was a spontaneous ripple of polite applause and the Royal party made their way past the Tudor Red Beefeaters separately into the gardens and along the double lines of guests.

An audience with the Queen…

Most people don’t get close enough to the Queen to meet her, but luckily we choose the right line and we did get a chance to see her up close as she walked along the lines of smiling people stopping every now and again to shake hands and chat with specially selected guests and one in particular who stood and chatted to her barely two metres away from us.

With all the queuing up and pushing and shoving to see the Queen the afternoon passed unexpectedly quickly.  As the plates were quite small this meant we had to make two visits to the tea tent and had to go through the whole lining up process again.  Eventually there was a flurry of activity around the Royal tent and her Majesty was on the move again coming back outside and walking ponderously back towards the Palace stopping every so often to shake a hand here or have a word there and eventually Prince Philip began to lag behind as he was much more prepared to enter longer conversations.  Back at the top of the steps and outside the Palace back door the band once more played the National Anthem and they were gone.

I hadn’t really known what to expect from an invitation to a Royal tea party and although I hadn’t really met the Queen of course I really rather enjoyed it in a snobbish sort of way.  We joined the crowds making for the exits and once outside travelled back to the hotel to collect our bags and make for the station and the train journey home at the end of an excellent day.

See also https://apetcher.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/the-rain-of-queen-elizabeth/

http://cllrwellbelove.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/buckinghampalacegardenparty/

 Queen Elizabeth

What to wear to a Royal Garden Party…

For men this is relatively straight forward.  If you are a serving member of the armed forces then wear your uniform but make sure you take off the medals – apparently the Queen is not that impressed with a Victoria Cross dangling from the left breast pocket.  If you are not a soldier or a sailor then just wear a smart suit.

For a lady guest, wear a nice, but expensive, summer dress but make sure this covers up any unsightly tattoos, I don’t imagine that HRH approves of Indian chiefs or snarling skull body art.  A hat is a good idea but if it is rainy then just downsize to a fascinator or something that won’t blow away because chasing a hat across Buckingham Palace lawns is undignified.

Always take an umbrella just in case!

 Palace Invite 3