Things can happen unexpectedly. Little miracles, if you will – and that’s what I spotted this week when entirely out of the blue, I received an email inviting me to a Royal garden party in London in May! The Queen’s Garden Party, no less. I squealed (fortunately not aloud), and ran over to my colleague’s office from where the email had come.
‘Are you kidding, can I go to a Royal garden party?’ I squealed (this time).
‘Can you go?’ She smiled, ‘Are you free on the 21st?’
‘I’ll be free for the Queen, yup, absolutely!!!’
The Queen’s Garden party – are you kidding? I’m not going to pretend I don’t care about this – I love the Royals. We’ve been in London for the excitement that was William and Kate’s wedding and Harry and Meghan’s. We even covered that 2018 event for radio in Australia. It was divine!
Royal Garden parties
Every year the Queen hosts three parties at Buckingham Palace and one in Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. These events are designed to recognise and reward public service.
Another truth, I’m a fan of Royal dramas – everything from The White Princess to The Tudors, Victoria and The Crown – count me in!
I’d spotted that Queen Victoria initiated a ‘breakfast’ (although also held in the afternoon, akin to the contemporary Royal garden party) in an effort to get more in touch with her people. Up until then as I understand it, most Royals kept themselves at quite a distance from, well, the rest of us.
With the world rapidly changing in the Victorian era (mid to late 1800s), the demand for our royalty to be more in touch with everyday life increased. And so the mingling began.
Events with the public have changed shape over the years though, and Queen Elizabeth’s summer garden parties as we know them today at Buckingham Palace have run since just after the second World War.
What to expect at a Royal Garden Party
Lots of people (thousands – like a very elegant festival!).
And a Royal garden party serves up loads of food. Think 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake. Included on the menu are many of the Queen’s favourite treats.
There’s royalty too. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh accompanied by other members of the Royal family speak to a range of people throughout the afternoon.
The dress code is strict – women wear a day dress and hat or fascinator and men wear a lounge suit (or ‘morning dress’).
There’s a nice Royal garden party round-up on the Royals’ webpage.
How to get on the invite list to a Royal or special event in London
While the Queen’s Garden Party is invite only and I was lucky to be randomly selected through work (I had no idea it was even possible to go to something like this!), I’ve discovered there are ways you can apply to try and get yourself on the guest list.
As we did for the beautiful Anzac Day memorial service in London (VERY special if you get the chance and are from Australia or New Zealand), you can apply to attend the Queen’s Garden Party via the Australian High Commission.
Do a quick Google for the authority that relates to you to see if there are any ties that give you the chance to apply in advance for an event like a Royal Garden Party with the Queen in summer at Buckingham Palace.
Be mindful of making the best of your opportunity though. I believe that you can only receive one invitation and/or only attend once. With demand being so high for such a special occasion, frequent chances to go along simply do not exist.
If you can’t make a Royal garden party though, you can tour Buckingham Palace. It’s usually open in the summer, and you can find out more by searching for it on Visit London’s website, among other sources.
We’ll report back in May on the event. Wish me luck … that I don’t trip over my feet or my words 😎
Update following the Garden Party
Royal garden party at Buckingham Palace featured image via Royal.uk