Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Buckingham Palace Garden Party

19th May saw Mrs Bolt off to London with her friend Anne for the Garden Party to celebrate her British Empire Medal . She was armed of course with the list of questions from Red Squirrels and Kingfishers.

Mrs Bolt writes:

We drove up to London with our friend Susie who was confident to drive through Central London to The Mall where we could park with our special green parking permit. It was quite special to park almost opposite the palace!  

The gates are black and gold, Jacob, and very tall!

We were a little early so went to St James Park for a bit. 

Just before 2pm we went to join the queue to go into the gardens through the main entrance. Briefly I thought we might join the shorter queue to go into the garden through the side rather than through the palace but it was too good an opportunity to be able to walk through the palace.

Sorry, Marcus, looking around there are lots and lots of windows so you will have to count them yourself! Remember there is the front, both sides and the back and then the courtyard with windows on all 4 sides.

The palace is very very big, Oliver! There are 775 rooms These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms!

The palace is made of stone, Dylan.

In measurements, the palace is 108 metres long across the front, 120 metres deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 metres high - in answer to Ellie Mae.

At this point there are no more photos as the invitation clearly says, ‘NO photos are permitted once entering the gates’.

Qwannell, Keeley and many others - it turns out the reason the Queen does not let you take photos is twofold - firstly it is her house and garden and it is private she is sharing it with just you, also because she wants you to just enjoy the garden and the day and not spend all of your time looking through a lens so this is where my photos end but more of that later.

It was quite surreal to be walking through the palace with lovely gold leaf edging and decoration on the ceiling and paintings of the Queen and other Royal family members on the walls. We also walked past some cabinets with beautiful china and ornaments in. There were guards. The Yeoman in their smart red uniforms were there to show you where to go and to greet you. (It was tempting to try and sneak in the main palace but I did remember Niamh was worried I would take photos and get locked in the tower so, with Niamh in my head and my sensible friend Anne with me, we carried on to the garden.

As you come out of the palace you emerge from under a canopy where later the Royal family would stand to greet visiting dignitaries and guests.

What a sight as you walk along a long red carpet into the garden where some of the other 7998 guests were already walking around or like us streaming like river through the 3 doorways.

We saw the red carpet led to a cordoned area marked by wide red rope on stakes.  Already there were people queuing by the ropes to see the royal family. A difficult choice followed but we decided you are only in Buckingham Palace Garden once so it would be shame to waste the whole afternoon standing by a rope in the hope the Queen might stop by you.  Besides which, I needed to get the answers to  more questions so walking round the garden we went so it is yes to bluebells, Dylan,  and yes to the arboretum with its native British trees right next to the formal gardens, Nell.

A big yes to Millie’s big gravel path which goes right round the perimeter of the garden and like our lines of symmetry in the formal gardens we drew -straight down the middle with matching green beds. Yes, Millie, where the formal bit and the trees are it is pretty much green.

There were no tulips, Jaryd, but lots of beautiful and mainly scented roses. There was no black spot on  the roses so they must spray with chemicals because I know from visiting Highgrove House there is no organic way to control the disease.

Lucy, this bit of the garden smells of roses; later in the year when the lavender flowers it will smell of lavender. Further round the garden there is lily of the valley - this will smell lovely in a few weeks.

After we walked round the garden, Bella, listening to the bands playing,  we went to the tea tent for a cup of specially made Twinning’s Garden Party tea in a white cup that sat on a kind of tray where you put your food. We had sandwiches cut into rectangles, tiny scones with cream cheese, wraps cut into small bite sized slices with a creamy curry and spinach filling with a choice of lots of different mini bite sized cakes. The chocolate brownie cake had a chocolate button with a crown on the top! Kind of like a posh cream tea in a restaurant, Oscar.

B y now it was 4 o’clock so we joined the crowds waiting for the Royal party due to join us for tea at 4.30.They had their own special tea tent!

Dear me what a crowd - now you could see there were 8000 people all trying to get close to the ropes to see the Royal family. After what seemed ages they came out on to the balcony and I wished i had taken binoculars to see with - from 15 rows back you could not see much but eventually they walked down through the middle of the red cordon  and this is where we get back to photos. Clearly people forgot they were in the palace gardens and were not supposed to take photos and out came the mobile phones and cameras despite the fact the Queen had written to us to say no photos. How rude! The QUEEN said no photos and people ignored her! Could have been a hard choice because lots of people were taking photos and I had to decide.  For me it was easy; my invitation  said no photos so no photos it was. Despite the crowds I wanted a bucket of water to go round dropping  phones in it! Fortunately not everyone forgot their manners and other people were clearly as cross as I was.

We got a glimpse of the queen - she seems tiny but looked very regal in a light mint green dress with matching hat with a pink stripe round it, Joseph, but no crown, Dylan H!

I could also make out Prince Philip in his suit and top hat.

After the royal party had gone past and to get way from all of the rude people and their phones we went for a walk to the left side of the palace.

Now we had been right round the gardens we could answer more questions.

No river, Sam J. No maze, Marcus, No water fountain or balloons, Jun. The garden is very neat, no weeds, long grass or untidy plants. The grass was freshly mown and all the edges were straight and cut short. A beautiful typically English garden with lots of plants you and I grow in our gardens, Eliza. It was beautiful, Sam J, and very special to walk round and look at all of the flowers and beautiful dresses ladies were wearing  although I do not think some of the ladies were very sensible wearing such high heeled shoes on the soft grass.

As we came to the side of palace at about 5pm we saw there were several wheelchairs by the palace so we asked a smart man in suit who was telling people where to stand (I later found out he was SAS and there a number of them in the garden that day as the day before someone had climbed over the wall into the garden).  He said if we did not mind waiting there the Royal party would come past to speak to all of the disabled people waiting there. What better way to end the day; we had walked round the gardens, had a lovely tea and listened to some band  music. After about ½ hour the national anthem played and we knew they were coming! Slowly into view headed by the Queen and her husband Price Phillip, then her son Prince Charles and his wife Camilla. Followed by the queen’s  daughter Princess Anne, then Princess Michael and her husband and 2 other older ladies. There were about 45 people waiting, some in wheelchairs, some on mobility scooters, some were old, some had illnesses meaning they could not walk and there were a couple of soldiers with missing limbs.

The next bit tells me the Royal family must be very nice, Eliza, as between them they made sure each person was greeted including their relatives and carers. So that, Ellie Mae, is how we saw the Queen, right up close as she walked by us and talked to people less than 2m away!

As we went to walk towards the steps one of the Equerries – the guys who line the route the queen walks down - turned and asked if we had had a good day and where we came from. When we answered Oxfordshire he then asked if we knew a place called Cholsey. Small world indeed he worked with the husband of a lady we know who goes to St Mary’s church!


  1. Mrs Bolt, what a wonderful day you must have had. It was lucky that you had your looking eyes with you all the time to see everything that you needed to see and your remembering brain to keep all those things safe. Was Anne taking notes! Precious memories made that day, thank you for sharing them.

  2. My goodness Mrs Bolt! I think you are better at finding answers than Miss Marple!
    Well done, I think you deserve 3 house points. Does anyone agree?
    Mrs Bryers