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Afternoon Tea with the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace

One Encounters A Former Monarch Near To The Gates!

'This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Arpingstone'.  See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Victoria.memorial.london.arp.jpg
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'This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Arpingstone'. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Victoria.memorial.london.arp.jpg
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Arpingstone

Tea in the Gardens


A few years ago, my husband and I had tea with Her Majesty the Queen ~ in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. We were not alone with her, though ~ it was a royal garden party!

(I was reminded of this, when my daughter returned from Stratford Upon Avon, having seen the Queen open the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre.)

It was in Millennium year ~ 2000 ~ that we received our invitation.

It was because of my husband's work, as a director in the civil service, but our invitation ~ from the Lord Chamberlain ~ was addressed to me!

We were invited to the gardens of Buckingham Palace, on 25th July, from 4pm until 6pm.

We just hoped that it wouldn't rain!

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How To Dress - and What Not to Bring

With our invitation, was an information sheet, with all of the dos and don'ts for the day.

It was for over-18s only.

Ladies had to wear a day dress, or uniform (without medals). A hat was obligatory.

Gentlemen had the choice of morning coat, lounge suit, or uniform (again, without medals).

National dress could also be worn.

We could not drive into the palace grounds, or stop our cars outside the palace

We could not bring, or use, a camera.

Only the two of us were allowed to attend ~ we could not bring guests.

See all 17 photos

Preparing for the Day

We had to travel to London, so we booked train tickets, with the intention of finding a taxi near Euston station.

My Mum was going to babysit, so the children would be ok.

Now, what to wear?!

My husband had decided upon a lounge suit. He has a number of these and had a new one ready at the time, so clothes were not a problem for him.

But for me, they most certainly were ~ as most women will understand.

We had to travel to London, so the clothes would have to be suitable for a train journey ~ albeit in First Class. (Well, it was a special occasion!) The outfit had to be smart and comfortable ~ including the shoes.

It took some time to find exactly the right combination, but I finally chose a navy blue dress, with navy shoes and handbag, teamed with a cream jacket and a cream hat.

I don't visit London very often ~ and I certainly don't get to see the Queen very often! (The last time had been when she visited Birmingham, for her 1977 Jubilee ~ and I just caught a glimpse of her hat as she drove by!)

I was really looking forward to this special day out.

See all 17 photos
See all 17 photos
See all 17 photos

The Journey To the Palace

I think we drove into Birmingham, by taxi, and then caught the train to Euston Station. We travelled First Class ~ a first for me!

I was very impressed by the service ~ and the lovely food!

We arrived in London in good time and, before leaving the station, I planned to pop into 'the ladies' to freshen up, check my hair, and finalise my preparations for visiting the palace.

I was to be sorely disappointed!

The ladies' toilets were closed and had been temporarily replaced by a small portacabin that was totally unsuitable for my needs. The day was no longer going so well!

But my husband came to the rescue, by remembering that a first class ticket permitted me to use the first class ladies' rest rooms ~ and very first class they were, too!

They were spacious and well decorated with large mirrors and comfy chairs ~ as well as the usual necessities.

I emerged feeling ready to meet my monarch.

Buckingham Palace

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Source: Copyright Tricia Mason, 1977

A Taxi Ride Up The Mall

We caught another taxi from the station, which took us to The Mall.

The Mall was very, very busy ~ with tourists, locals and garden party visitors.

After a while, the car simply stopped moving, the road was so busy ~ and we decided to alight and walk the rest of the way.

It was further than expected, but nice, because we could drink in the lovely atmosphere, as we made our way towards the palace gates.

I did have a camera with me, in spite of the royal request, because I wanted photos outside the palace, if not within, so I took a few snaps as we walked.

*

Finally Buckingham Palace loomed ahead ~ and we entered through the gates, as all of the tourists looked on.

It was a very special moment. We were VIPs for the day!

The gravel made a satisfying crunch beneath our feet, as we crossed the huge driveway, towards the royal doors.

Buckingham Palace - Front View - David Iliff

Author: David Iliff ~ 8 April 2009 'In using this image or any subsequent derivatives of it, you are required to release the image under the same license.' This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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Author: David Iliff ~ 8 April 2009 'In using this image or any subsequent derivatives of it, you are required to release the image under the same license.' This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Source: Wikimedia Commons / David Iliff

Entering the Palace.

Nowadays, parts of Buckingham Palace are sometimes open to the public, but that was not the case when we visited, so entering the royal abode was a special and an unusual occurrance.

The guests queued excitedly in the Quadrangle.

There were two open doors, as I remember ~ one to the right of the building and one to the left. We chose ~ or perhaps were ushered towards ~ the doors to our left. We climbed the steps ~ and entered. This was quite an event!

And we had certainly chosen the right door, because, as we walked through to the terrace, we were flanked by Yeomen of the Guard. The others did not receive this special treatment, because we had decided to use the doors that the queen would soon be using!

I admired the beautiful drapes and furnishings ~ a lovely rich rose pink, I think they were ~ as we slowly made our way through two palatial rooms.

Soon we were out in the sunshine and on the Queen's terrace. From there we could walk down the steps and across the lawns to an array of seats that had been arranged for us.


Buckingham Palace - Queens Breakfast Room

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pynequeensbreakfastroombuckinghamhouse_edited.jpg
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See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pynequeensbreakfastroombuckinghamhouse_edited.jpg
Source: Public domain ~ copyright expired

Yeomen of the Guard

1 ~ Public Domain ~ 1888. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TinboxYeomen.jpg 2 ~ Author: Philip Allfrey ~ Creative Commons license
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1 ~ Public Domain ~ 1888. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TinboxYeomen.jpg 2 ~ Author: Philip Allfrey ~ Creative Commons license
Source: Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

Yeomen Warders - 'Beefeaters'

1: released into public domain by author StoatBringer ~ wikipedia project. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Beefeater_at_tower_of_london.jpg ~ ~ 2: released into public domain by author Arpingstone. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yeoma
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1: released into public domain by author StoatBringer ~ wikipedia project. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Beefeater_at_tower_of_london.jpg ~ ~ 2: released into public domain by author Arpingstone. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yeoma
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Royal Yeomen

I was not sure, as we entered the palace, whether we saw 'Yeomen of the Guard', or 'Yeoman Warders' (Beefeaters).

However, 'Wikipedia' helped me out ~ it must have been the Monarch's Body Guard ~ the 'Yeomen of the Guard'. I should have realised this, because we had seen the Beefeaters on a earlier trip to London, when we visited the Tower!

Their uniforms are slightly different, and I do recall that the guardsmen, whom we saw that day at Buckingham Palace, were dressed in red.

'The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard are a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by Henry VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As a token of this venerability, the Yeomen still wear red and gold uniforms of Tudor style.'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeomen_of_the_Guard

'The Yeoman Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London.'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeomen_Warders

Buckingham Palace - View From Gardens

The copyright holder of this file, Anubis3, allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Attribution: Anubis3. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:West_facade_of_Buckingham_Palace.JPG
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The copyright holder of this file, Anubis3, allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed. Attribution: Anubis3. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:West_facade_of_Buckingham_Palace.JPG
Source: Wikimedia / Anubis3

Some Background Information

A quote from Wikipedia regarding the 'Mountbatten' name:

'Mountbatten-Windsor is the personal surname of some of the descendants of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh under an ambiguously-worded Order-in-Council issued in 1960 ...'

'It differs from the official name of the British Royal Family or Royal House, which remains Windsor.'

'The Mountbatten surname derives from the German town of Battenberg, in Hesse. Prince Louis of Battenberg changed his surname to Mountbatten (its literal English translation) during the First World War at the request of King George V.'

' ... Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark ...... descends from the Battenberg family through his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountbatten-Windsor

Exploring the Royal Gardens and the Tea Tent!

We met, and chatted to, a number of very interesting people, as military bands played.

And while we chatted, we ate and we drank. There were refreshing cold drinks and, of course, plenty of English tea. We had tiny cucumber sandwiches and delicate smoked salmon and scrambled egg sandwiches.

There were lots of delicious cakes, including, I remember, miniature Battenbergs. (Very appropriate, since the Windsors used to be known as the Mountbattens ~ or Battenbergs! I understand that the Queen's surname is still Mountbatten-Windsor.)

The food was delicious and there was plenty for everyone ~ and there were a lot of guests!

We also explored the royal gardens.They are large and are lovely for a gentle stroll. I wished, several times, that I could take photographs.


Battenberg Cake

Henrycooksey, the copyright holder, hereby publishes it under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Battenbergcake.jpg
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Henrycooksey, the copyright holder, hereby publishes it under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Battenbergcake.jpg

'Meeting' Her Majesty

Of course, there were regular examples of a whispered: 'Is she here yet?' or 'Can you see her?', and we had not long been back in our seats, when we noticed some activity on the palace terrace.

A lady in yellow had appeared, who looked like she just might possibly be 'Her Majesty' ~ and then the bands began to play a familiar tune: 'God Save the Queen'.

Everyone rose, in unison, and began to sing our national anthem.

The Queen began her walkabout, accompanied by Prince Philip and their party.

As the Gentlemen at Arms stood guard, Her Majesty was introduced to some of her guests ~ but only a few ~ as most of us looked on.

It was a historic day, in a very historic setting ~ perfect for a history-lover like me!

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Public domain ~ NASA. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_II_greets_NASA_GSFC_employees,_May_8,_2007_edit.jpg
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Public domain ~ NASA. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_II_greets_NASA_GSFC_employees,_May_8,_2007_edit.jpg
Source: Wikipedia / NASA

Leaving

After a while, the Queen retired to the Royal Tea Tent, as the rest of us mingled, talked, partook of a little more refreshment, or walked on the lawns.

A little before six o'clock, the royal party left the gardens, and Her Majesty's guests took a last look around them and bade farewell to the Palace grounds.

Soon we were, once again, crunching most agreeably on gravel, and walking back out through those large golden gates.

The garden party was over.

*

But London beckoned.

We walked around for a while, before boarding our train back home. And, back in our comfortable first class seats, I was amazed to see the food that was being served!

There were tiny cucumber sandwiches and delicate smoked salmon and scrambled egg sandwiches ~ plus miniature battenberg cakes!!!

It was like a case of deja vu!

Buckingham Palace + Gardens 1897

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Source: Stanford's Map Of Central London 1897

The Gardens

Guests were given a brief description of the gardens, along with their invitations. Here are a few notes:

The gardens are almost 40 acres in size and contain a 3-acre lake.

"The north side occupies part of the original site of a mulberry garden laid out by James I in 1609."

Of the almost 200 trees in the gardens. Most are London plane.

In some parts of the garden, the grass is left to grow long, in order to encourage wildlife.

Many birds are drawn to the garden ~ and some extremely rare fungi grow there.

King George VI ('The King's Speech') and Queen Elizabeth (later known as 'The Queen Mother') planted a '170 metre long herbaceous border' in their grounds ~ and there are numerous other flowering plants and shrubs.

Our invitation + Envelope

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See all 17 photos

 Last updated on June 17, 2012

Useful {3}Funny {1}Awesome {6}Beautiful {3}Interesting {2}

Comments 30 comments

Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 3 years ago

That's one of those 'remember-it-forever' moments. What a lovely day to cherish in your memories. Thank you for sharing it so beautifully.

diogenese 3 years ago

Well written article. Bob

Mrs. J. B. profile image

Mrs. J. B. 3 years ago from Southern California

WOW!!!!!! I love it. This was a fabulous hub.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hello Crewman, Diogenes and Mrs JB :) :) :)

It was a lovely day ~ and I am pleased that you enjoyed reading about it.

Thank you!!!

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Boston, MA Level 7 Commenter

I have to say what Mrs. JB said: "Wow!" Vote up and awesome for this marvelous hub.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Genna, thank you!

That is much appreciated!

puter_dr profile image

puter_dr 3 years ago from Midwest USA

Quite a memory you are sharing. Thanks!

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hi puter_dr :)

Yes, indeed!

Thanks for reading :)

crystolite profile image

crystolite 3 years ago from Houston TX

Good article with nice pics.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Thank you, Crystolite :)

hemustincrease profile image

hemustincrease 3 years ago from West Yorkshire. England

What a lovely hub. I am a fellow Brit, but have lived in the USA the last four years. I love all things English even more since leaving there. I have never attended a tea party at Buckingham Palace though. What a special day. :) And cucumber sandwiches and battenburg are my all time favourites. I still miss my cucumber sandwiches from the Merry England shops ‘up north’. You just can’t get anything quite so ‘delicate’ in the US! ;-)

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hello Hemustincrease

Yes, quite an amazing experience, really :)

I do like battenberg, myself.

christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 3 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

Thanks for that delightful retelling of what must have been a beautiful experience.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Thank you, Christopher. It was certainly a very special day! :)

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 3 years ago from Central Oklahoma Level 3 Commenter

I've always wondered what sort of instructions guests are given prior to such events and, of course, what happens during the party itself! Thank you for sharing this memorable experience!

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hello JamaGenee :)

Thanks for reading :)

Yes, it was certainly an interesting experience!

RedElf profile image

RedElf 3 years ago from Canada

How delightful for you - a first class train ride and a lovely garden party! Thanks you for sharing your lovely day with us!

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hello RedElf :)

Yes, it was lovely ~ and we were very lucky with the weather :)

writeronline 2 years ago

Hi Trish, what a memorable occasion for you to tell the grandkids about in future winters around the fireside..

It seems that, no matter how you may feel about inherited privilege, it's impossible for many people throughout the Commonwealth not to feel special when they get up close and personal with The Queen. But very few would ever hope to have the experience as up-close and personal as you and your husband.

HM has just been down here in OZ for a few days, and as usual, crowds flocked, little girls curtsied, (though our PM Julia Gillard, an avowed Republican, didn't)flowers were exchanged, and strange and unusual items of memorabilia (eg; a football...?) were presented to her by young people freshly scrubbed, groomed and coached for the occasion..

I watched my wife's face, while she watched the Queen on TV, and she couldn't stop smiling, and saying "Isn't she lovely?"

I suspect she is, and I suspect you think so too. So, Trish, please don't be offended if you happen to read my SATIRICAL piece, posing as a speech the Queen will soon make, at which she provides reassurance to "The 1%"....

Thanks for sharing your memories of an *actual* Royal occasion..

Cheers.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hello Writeronline :)

During my teens and early twenties I admit to having been an ardent royalist ~ though I never believed that they were any 'better' than the rest of us.

Now I see the world through more mature eyes :)

I don't think that it is right that some people are believed to be better ~ or more deserving ~ just because they are richer, or because their ancestors won a battle.

I don't blame your PM for not bowing. Maybe I wouldn't, myself :)

What does still appeal to me is our heritage and history. I see the royals and the church as part of that ~ regardless of my personal beliefs.

The garden party was a special occasion for various reasons ~ not just because the queen was in attendance, and certainly not because the queen is a superior being. I do think that she does seem to be a nice person, who takes her role very seriously. I respect her for that (though I am not impressed with the hunting, etc).

As a figurehead, I think that the non-political monarchy works quite well ~ possibly better than a political leader. Not sure.

And the royals are not the only ones who are very rich and 'important', without necessarily being particularly deserving. Life isn't always fair in that respect.

Thanks for your interesting and thought-provoking comment. I have read your Queen's speech and and not offended, just not sure what I think about the whole situation. :)

Del 2 years ago

Just a wee note that the last queen of England died in 1714 - Elizabeth is the queen of the UK.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Yes, Del, true. It's funny, though, how she still seems to be known as the Queen of England. Interesting :)

stessily 2 years ago

Trish, You've wonderfully described this memorable event. I have such a delicious sense of calm, controlled enthusiasm for the day. Thank you for sharing this mometous day; I feel in a way as though I was there.

UABI

Kind regards, Stessily

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hi Stessily. :)

Thank you for your kind words. I am very pleased that you enjoyed your visit to the palace :)

CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 2 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

What a lovely account of what must have been a very special day. Some thirty years ago I accompanied my parents to Buckingham Palace to my fathers investiture- he got the Imperial Service Order- I can remember the gilt- gold everywhere and the band playing . Dad said the Queen was well informed and she knew exactly what he had done and why he had the medal.

Fast forward twenty five years and my brother in law attended a business function; again she knew what the company he worked for did and their success in the UK.

The palace machinery has a way of settling you down and enabling you to get the most of your day with memories to last a life time

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hello CASE1WORKER :)

Thank you for your comments. What lovely memories you must have of these special days! It must have been very special for your whole family when your father received Imperial Service Order.

I have heard about how well prepared the queen is. My Mum's friends sadly lost their child at Aberfan. The queen goes there, regularly, and meets the bereaved parents. Mum's friend had just celebrated her diamond wedding anniversary. "Did you receive my card?" The queen asked her!!!

 
watergeek profile image

watergeek 21 months ago from Pasadena CA, USA Level 3 Commenter

That was really interesting, Trish. You gave a good rundown of events and kept us all suspended until the Queen came. I almost met her once, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Grenada. The limo drove past us on the way to where she would be speaking and Prince Phillip waved to us. She was on the other side of the limo. It was a drizzly day, so my two friends and I were the only ones on the street. We walked the rest of the way to the small outdoor stage and heard her speak. She was dedicating a new school for the deaf. The daughter of the family we lived with was deaf, and she carried a basket of flowers onstage to give to the Queen. It was quite exciting. Thanks for the reminder :-) I'm going to add this as a link to my hub on teapots.

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 21 months ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hi Watergeek

It sounds as if we both have exciting memories of the Queen. Glad to remind you of yours ~ and thanks for your comments. All the best!

the queen of who? 18 months ago

surely not just the queen of england.............................

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 18 months ago from The English Midlands Hub Author

Hi :)

Well, whatever else she is, she is certainly 'The Queen of England' and that's how she's generally known, isn't it?

Strangely enough, I rarely hear her called 'The Queen of Britain' or 'The Queen of the UK'.

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