Royal Garden Party
Tuesday 5th June 2018
It was our first visit to a Royal Garden Party. However, we had received no shortage of helpful advice from other masters. So, for future Masters, my recommendations:
1. Book lunch at the Goring Hotel. The lunch menu is excellent and you will see many other masters there. Also, with a full stomach, you will not be tempted to queue too long for tea.
2. You can't overdress, so wear morning coat, top hat with black waistcoat to signify that you are from the City.
3. Wear your Master's and Mistress's badges - lots of people will ask you about your "medal".
4. Enter through the Hyde Park gate - the queue is much shorter.
5. Be prepared to queue. It's what we British do so well and we feel comfortable in queues.
6. Don't wear pointy stiletto shoes (men or women). The going can be soft.
At the Goring, we ordered a glass of champagne while we perused the menu. Master Distiller said hello before he and his family disappeared to join the queues. We both went for the excellent roasted cod main course. I chose a seafood starter while Maureen had a delicious spring salad. We both had a glass of white wine. Dessert was rice pudding for me and a chocolate mousse for the Mistress. It was an outstanding lunch. On leaving the hotel, we went to the Grosvenor Gardens gate but the queue was at least 100 yards long with security checks. No big cameras allowed but iPhones and pocket cameras are OK. We walked over to the Hyde Park gate where there was no queue.
Inside, we strolled through the gardens until shortly before 4pm when we took refuge in a queue to see the Royal Party. The guests form two avenues and the Royal Party splits up walking down both avenues to the Royal Tea Tent (where very special people are invited). We chose the right avenue thinking that the Queen might naturally lean to the right rather than the left (not that HM Queen would ever disclose her political leanings).
Over at the Palace, the doors opened and a few bars of God Save The Queen were played, and I could see the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. No Queen but it was quite possible that she may have been hidden behind the ample retinue of equerries and ladies in waiting. It didn't take long before we heard that Her Majesty was at Windsor Castle (still clearing up after the wedding, I thought). Then it became apparent that the Prince of Wales does lean to the left so we had the Duchess of Cornwall meeting and greeting down our avenue. She came over to chat to two dear elderly ladies who had stood patiently next to the Mistress. The equerries, ladies in waiting and Royal party continued to meet and greet until they arrived at the entrance to the Royal Tent enclosure, which was guarded by Beefeaters (product placement by the Master Distiller, I wondered).
We picked up our allocation of cucumber sandwiches and a tub of ice cream before resuming our exploration of the beautiful Palace gardens. In the warm sunshine, people offered to take snaps of each other and admire dresses and costumes. We saw pearly queens, scores of clergy in very bright colours, military folk, police officers, masters in morning coats and a hard-to-miss gentleman in a tangerine suit with a highly tattooed hairless head. As I was told, you can't over-dress for a Royal Garden Party.