Buckingham Palace Garden Party
Wednesday 15th May 2019
By longstanding tradition, the Monarch hosts four Garden Parties each summer; three at Buckingham Palace in London and one at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. The occasions are designed to recognise the work of people that give to society and so it is that Masters of Livery Companies receive invitations in recognition of their organisations' charitable activities. With over 8,000 guests at each, this is quite a large undertaking for the Queen so she tends to delegate the organisation to the Lord Chamberlain from whom the Mistress and I received a formal invite.
We chose the first date for Buckingham Palace accepting the risk that the weather may be less than perfect. As it turned out, we need not have worried as the sun shone brightly and, whilst warm, it was thankfully not too hot. Having shared a most enjoyable lunch with a number of other Livery Company Masters and Consorts organised by the Water Conservators, we strolled over to the Palace gates to be admitted to the grounds. The operation was astonishingly efficient but then the Palace has had many years of practice. In no time at all, our queue sped through security and we found ourselves transported from the busy streets of central London into the tranquility of 40 acres of beautifully designed and maintained landscape that is the Palace garden.
An ensuing three hours was spent mixing with other guests including the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of the City of London, many Masters and Consorts of Livery Companies and myriad new acquaintances from all manner of organisations and communities. We all took tea, accompanied by excellent sandwiches and sweet things. For those that wanted, the Palace grounds were open to explore and there were military bands dotted around to play a range of traditional and contemporary musical pieces to add atmosphere and fun to the occasion.
Our Royal hosts that day were HRH The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and HRH The Princess Royal. They moved around the garden meeting a great number of the guests and were at great ease, setting the comfortable tone for the event that one would expect. Whilst the presentation of certain guests was clearly pre-determined, mostly it was not.
The afternoon came to a gentle finish with ice cream and final cup of tea before the guests departed, passing through the Palace from the garden in to the Quadrangle and then out to the front. Seeing some of the interiors and inner spaces of the residence of the Head of State was the final treat in what had been a magical and a quintessential British occasion.