I never expected the experience to be so emotional, or impressionable. Arriving at Buckingham Palace and being waved through into the parking area by the police was quite the thing. Just had to show the ticket that came in the ‘pre-investiture pack’….cool! My sisters Anne and Eileen were waiting at the gates of the Palace with their lovely husbands Peter and Denis. I loved that.
Walking under the famous wedding balcony and into the front entrance of the Palace made me shiver. Although the wind was howling through the tunnel, it was the thought of the years of royal history that initiated the reaction. We all felt the same, and had to concentrate on keeping calm.
The interior was just as impressive, and the Yeoman of the Guard who greeted us added to the drama of the occasion. Precision in planning meant that we were greeted warmly and ushered into the correct rooms, each one adorned with luxurious ornate furniture and graphic ancient paintings.
My family, Paul Anna James and Olivia, were directed to the glorious state ballroom which had been prepared for the Investiture. They were given instructions how to ‘behave’ during the ceremony, as we were in a separate and equally opulent room! I wanted to capture every moment and remember it forever. The excited recipients (like me) chatted and anticipated the award ceremony as the clock hands moved towards 11am…
The Princess Royal was in residence to present the awards. Some of those around me were slightly disappointed that it wasn’t the Queen, but as Princess Anne is the Patron of the Royal College of Midwives, I was quietly pleased. Princess Anne we were informed, allows recipients more time to chat which usually extends the length of the ceremony. And that she did! I had practised my courtesy (I tried to copy Kylie Minogue) but I still felt nervous as I approached the podium. Princess Anne was just as I imagined. She knew that I had been a midwife for more than 30 years and she asked me about the changes in practice during that time. Anna said later that I should’ve referred her to my book ‘Catching Babies!’
My parents Kathleen and Jim were on my mind throughout the whole day. And my son Tom who is travelling in Australia was greatly missed. It didn’t feel the same without him.
We were greeted outside by more family and partners, and Seamus, Teddy and Archie…what an experience!
Just before we made our way to Quaglinos for our celebratory meal, we posed for more photos-including for the tourists……