Well, what a party in the garden that was.
Bit of a shock when Prince Phillip hit the dance floor, busted some John Travolta moves, and gave it laldy with a lady-in-waiting and a wee wumman from Craigmillar who’s been helping kids cross the road for a quarter of a century. And Her Maj sure knows how to party, propping up the bar, swigging the gin and telling hilarious stories about the time Margaret Thatcher accidentally punched Francois Mitterrand after the fish course at a State Dinner at Windsor Castle. No wonder the Queen holds her annual jamboree behind high walls at Holyrood.
None of that happened. The Garden Party is how to party like it’s 1899.
It’s a very pleasant affair, when the sun is shining. It didn’t last year, you may remember, and as a result must have borne a resemblance to the Western Front, with canapés.
The sun shines on the righteous, however, and beamed on us as we strolled about and watched the girls in Very High Heels sink deep into the turf, thereby negating the height advantage of the heel. Clue: Garden Party. There will be grass, girls, the mortal enemy of elevated footwear.
The Royal household knows how to serve a cucumber sandwich and a cup of Earl Grey at speed. The tea, sarnies and cakes were never more than a four-person wait away, and the food was lovely. Used plates vanished with the speed of money from my account, as if by the hands of an entire battalion of tiny faery folk.
They probably learn the art of high speed catering at those G9/EU/UN events. After all, the last thing you want during a break in particularly testy negotiations over EU fish quotas is an irritated Angela Merkel looking about waving a used sideplate with a half eaten mini lemon tart on it.
Anyway, the Yorkshire husband and I were on a mission to eat 56p worth of anything, since that’s what the royals apparently cost us. You’ll all be delighted to know that I hoovered up enough mini-eclairs to equal the cost of one wheel on the Irish State Coach being re-gilded.
There were military bands playing away under gazebos, whilst people milled about on the lawns. The whole event felt a bit like a terribly civilised Glastonbury. Until I spotted Big Eck in the posh tent, outdoing me on the “let’s eat as much as we can” stakes.
Slightly in awe at living history
I am still a bit baffled by my invitation, since I am a committed republican. And yet, and this is a bit embarrassing to admit, I became rather girly at the chance to see the Queen.
When I was a wee girl, my granny had a plate above the fireplace featuring a considerably younger Queen sitting side-saddle, sporting glamorous red lipstick.
I remember her launching the QE2, and news reels of her at premiers and opening things. I’ll grant you that, she does a good opening ceremony.
By chance, I found myself at the very front, as she perambulated back to the palace after taking tea. I was less than ten feet away, and I found it genuinely moving.
She is a sort of living history, who will never tell us what it was like to watch her father smoke all through dinner in 1942 because the war was going so badly. She will never tell us what happened in Balmoral when that terrible phone call came to say her ex-daughter-in-law had just gone supernova in the World’s Most Famous Woman Leagues, and she will never tell us what she thought of Thatcher.
She’s a living link to virtually every massive event in the 20th but she remains diplomatically silent.
I’m still a republican though.
Ribbon cutting pros for hire
They are terribly good at this sort of ceremonial guffins, the Royals. Makes me think we should just start hiring them out.
Instead of all that fireworks and synchronised gymnastics all over the shop, surely it’s a lot cheaper just to have The Queen swoop into town and cut a ribbon or two – obviously, we’ll charge more if you want her to jump from a helicopter a la Olympic Games.
No photos but I’ll put you in picture
Cameras are banned in the Royal presence, so I couldn’t get a snap for a souvenir. I found this faintly sinister. Perhaps they are vampires, and don’t show up in photos.
Or is that mirrors?
Anyway, I can tell you she was wearing light blue, is tiny and smiles a lot. Phillip looked cantankerous and not to be trusted with a 12-bore. It’s nice to know some things remain constant.