Colin and Diane Jenkins at Buckingham Palace
It all started in February this year with a letter from David Briggs, the Lord-Lieutenant for Cheshire advising us that Colin had been nominated to attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. The Garden Parties, of which there are three a year are held in recognition of those who have made a positive impact on their community.
There were three dates to choose from and we had to respond. How excited was I. As Colin’s ‘Plus One’ was there any doubt that we would say yes and I sent a letter back by return but we had to wait for the official invitation because at this stage there was no guarantee. This came through in April via The Lord Chamberlain’s office at Buckingham Palace. Colin was a bit embarrassed and wanted to keep it quiet but I told the world and his wife via social media I was so proud.
We then decided to spend a few days in London and booked our train tickets and hotel.
There were a list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ which you had to adhere to and on arrival at the Palace you had to hand in your Admittance Card (not the Invitation as you could keep this for a souvenir) and your passport or photo ID was checked.
We had to walk through two rooms in the Palace (no photographs allowed) which took us out onto the terrace and into the garden at 3pm.
People had told us to eat before we go as you don’t get much food and the quality of the food isn’t great. How wrong were they!
The food was fantastic – afternoon tea style – dainty sandwiches, canapes, scones with cream and the biggest assortment of dainty cakes you could imagine and you could go back to seconds if you wanted to.
Two bands were playing all afternoon and the National Anthem announces the arrival of Royalty. The only disappointment was that the Queen wasn’t in attendance, but at 92 she can’t be expected to attend everything. We were graced with the presence of Prince Charles, Camilla and Princess Anne, plus other members of the Royal Family. They walked down the terrace steps where we were waiting. I stood next to a lady in a wheelchair thinking… if he’s going to speak to anyone, he will speak to her … and he did! So there was I with my hand outstretched which he shook and asked ‘Have you tried the Tea Tent’ and ‘Have you travelled far’. On speaking to him and listening to his conversations with others in close proximity, I changed my view on thinking he was a bit ‘stuffy’ and was pleasantly surprised considering he must do it all the time..
When the Royals went to their open tent to have tea, ice cream was brought round to the guests. Seats were plentiful and my guess is that there were about 4,000 people in attendance. Hundreds in military uniform and people from all around the world. There was a lot of clergy too. We were speaking with Bishop Libby and her husband George about his charitable work around trafficking and apparently Bishops have a standing invitation to these events.
The Royal family left about 6pm and I can honestly say what a great day it was and it does make you think about what the Royals bring in to our country in terms of tourism.
After visitng many London landmarks during our break including 6 hours in the Tower of London which we found fascinating we ended with evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral (because we didn’t want to pay the entrance fee !!) in case you think we are mean, we did make a donation.