Thursday, 24 May 2012

Buckingham Palace Garden Party

My absence from the blog over the last couple of days is because I've been in London having been invited to attend one of two Buckingham Palace garden parties.

Each year, Cornwall Council receives two invites for its councillors and, having entered the draw unsuccessfully in the past, was lucky enough to be picked this year. Derek Holley, an Independent from Saltash, was the other and Rob Nolan was also invited as the retiring mayor of Truro.

I apologise in advance for the fact there are no photos accompanying this blog, but cameras (and camera phones) are absolutely banned from the Palace.

The gates opened at 3pm and, despite a huge queue, we were in by 3.15. We chose to go in by the main entrance through the Palace itself. We therefore walked through the formal entrance lined with porcelain and portraits of past monarchs and into the courtyard. Through the courtyard it was into another reception area before going out onto the terrace and then onto the lawns.

It couldn't be described as an intimate affair - there are more than 5000 people invited to each event. There were two service bands playing - a regulation army brass band and an RAF jazz outfit called the Squadronaires.

In order to cater for all the guests, there is a massive tea tent as well as smaller versions for the VIPs and diplomats. Apparently the average guest eats about nine bits of food. It comes as no surprise to relate that I was well above average. The food itself is a mixture of cucumber sandwiches (crusts cut off, natch), little cakes and tarts - all of great quality.

At the beginning and end of the event the royal party is introduced to selected guests. Some of these are apparently pre-arranged but others are plucked from the crowds. We joined the guests lining the route that the royals will take but didn't get chosen. We did, however, spot Her Majesty, HRH Prince Philip, the Princess Royal, The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent.

It was an honour to be invited to go and hugely enjoyable.

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