A Diamond Jubilee Garden Party and Alice Wynne

Queen’s Garden Party 29th May 2012

My husband and I were lucky enough be invited once more to Buckingham Palace. We still can’t believe it; visiting this magnificent Royal residence twice in one year, and the Diamond Jubilee year at that! Yesterday was the Queen’s Garden Party, and on a hot afternoon we approached Buckingham Palace Rd amidst swarms of other party revelers anticipating a memorable occasion. The attire of both female and male guests was outstanding, from vibrant colourful dresses to Jane Austen lookalikes , and the men wearing tails and top hats were by far the greatest head turners!

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Eight thousand guests mingled around until 4pm when the National Anthem alerted us all that the Queen was present in the garden, and would be walking amongst us soon.  The numerous Lord Lieutenants encouraged some of the masses to form a passage for the Royal family members to walk through, and to allow them enough space to talk to the chosen few.

Our Diamond Queen 29th May 2012

We were in a prime position at the edge of the line, and had a close up view of the Queen in a beautiful lilac outfit chatting cheerily to a lucky family. My mind was racing as I watched her, I thought of her mother, my mum and all the years that had passed under her Reign. I was delighted; she was just as I imagined, petite and fragile looking (though in relation to the latter of course she is not).

Queen Elizabeth looked glorious.

The refreshments were perfect, cucumber and mint sandwiches in true English

style, iced coffee and cream scones helped us to feel that we were indeed at a Royal event.

I did feel rather excited to learn that Kate was with us, and that it was her very first Garden Party. Through the throngs we eventually found her beaming a smile that lit up the faces of those she talked to. In fact the smile never stopped. Kate looked radiant and happy.

And then I met Alice. Alice was in a wheelchair and was next to me in the line up to see Prince Charles, and I picked up on her carer’s Yorkshire accent immediately. I bent down to talk to Alice whilst we waited, and soon learned she was profoundly deaf and her mind was beginning to fade. Not surprising, as Alice will be 108 years this July. Georgina, her carer, informed me they had been writing for years to ask come to a Garden Party, as Alice wanted to see ‘Princess Elizabeth’ before she died. And so as Charles advanced quickly towards us I mentioned to one of the officials some of the details I had just learned. Luckily, he responded and planned to direct Charles to Alice as he passed….which he did. Prince Charles bent to speak to her…well, to shout! Alice asked him if he ‘was OK’ and she seemed to take it all in her stride. When Charles moved on, Georgina and I asked her if she knew who the man was. ‘No?’ she replied….’Oh, was it the King?’

Meeting Alice made my day. I am just sorry I didn’t snap a photograph of her for my memory, and sorry her family didn’t share this special moment with her.

Photos (some) courtesy of The Mail Online

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A Royal experience

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The Investiture: Buckingham Palace 10th May 2012

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……