A CUB SCOUT GUIDE TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE GARDEN PARTIES
Following their recent attendance at a Buckingham Palace Garden Party - in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall - the 1st St. Margarets Cub Scouts offer this advice, just in case you receive the official summons yourself one day…
1. TAKE ALONG A PACKED LUNCH AND SOMETHING TO DRINK
Although you are guaranteed refreshment once you get into the garden at Buckingham Palace (let’s call it B.P.) there is a lot of hanging about before you actually pass through those famous gates. The Cubs, for example, first hung out in Wellington Barracks, were then moved to St James Park, returned to Wellington Barracks and then finally moved again to the inner quadrangle at B.P. A packed lunch helps pass time and feeds you before you get fed.
2. THE ROYAL ‘WEE’
The facilities in the B.P. gardens - or comfort stations as our American cousins like to call them - are luxurious considering that they are only temporary tented structures. They are certainly a long way removed from the grim “Loos for Do’s” so familiar to all fans of the St. Margarets Fair - but to use them you have to be in the garden. Outside the Palace - lavvy wise - there is nothing. It is best to go before you leave home… or take your chances in the local shrubbery.
3. GETTING THERE
The Palace advises you to come by public transport as there is no parking within the grounds - and you cannot drop off or pick up directly outside either. (Having said that, I have never seen Gordon Brown or Barak Obama coming out of St James Park tube station with a Travel Card in their hand!) If you do decide to come by car and try your luck parking in the Mall the palace will send you a sticker with a big X on it - for your chauffeur to stick on the windscreen of the Rolls.
4. DRESS CODE
- Day Dress with Hat if desired or Uniform (no medals)
- Trouser suits are permitted.
- Lounge suit or Uniform (no medals)
- Uniform with Woggle.
- Leave your Tufty Club badge at home.
5. THE FOOD
The food at B.P. Garden Parties is terrific - and even though the garden was crowded on the day the St. Margarets Cubs attended, there was no queuing. The refreshments are served from 2 open sided marquees, each about 200 yards long. Inside is a long table divided into small bays and each bay is staffed by young waiters with a seemingly endless supply of ‘finger’ food. This includes ham and egg sandwiches, bridge rolls, smoked salmon vol au vents, scones with double cream and strawberry jam, small lemon meringues and bite-sized chocolate ‘fancies’ topped with the Prince of Wales crest. After 4 or 5 return visits to the long tables to confirm their decision the Cubs unanimously voted the chocolate ‘fancies’ their favourite.
6. THE ROYALS
Before the event Clarence House sends you a booklet on the ‘do’s and don’t’ of Palace Garden Parties and in particular “Addressing Their Royal Highnesses” or “TRH” as they are referred to in the official websites. When you meet TRH - they being HRH (His Royal Highness) The Prince of Wales and HRH (Her Royal Highness) The Duchess of Cornwall the instruction is to…
Bow with a court bow, an inclination of the head from the neck, (no bending at the waist) or curtsy and address both Their Royal Highnesses as ‘Your Royal Highness’. Thereafter The Prince of Wales’ is addressed as ‘Sir’ and The Duchess of Cornwall as ‘Ma’am’.
Got that? When the St. Margarets Cubs met Camilla (That’s HRH D of C) and shook hands with her all these well-intentioned instructions were completely forgotten - but nobody seem to notice or mind. At least they didn’t call her “Miss”.
B.P. Garden Parties - the Official Video
7. THE AIDES
Probably the hardest working people on the day are the Aides who skilfully and subtly organize the crowd to ensure that TRH (you remember who they are?) get to meet a representative cross section of their guests. For example the Cubs with 50 others were playing with an enormous parachute with lots of shouting and running around when suddenly a crystal clear voice was heard above all others…“I say! Would you mind moving 10 metres this way?”…so we did and suddenly found ourselves in the presence of TRH. A few questions from them, a few photographs by the Press and TRH were on their way.
8. CAMERAS AND MOBILE PHONES
You are absolutely not allowed to take cameras or mobile phones into the grounds of B.P. although because of a last minute change in security many of us did. Everyone was on their very best behaviour and no one was seen to be using their mobiles although James Bond would have been impressed by the secretive way that some people were taking the odd photograph.
9. GOING HOME
At 6.00pm precisely the band played “The National Anthem”, TRH disappeared up the garden steps and the day was over. Like many of us living in the terraces of St Margarets B.P. seems to have no side entrance - so to get from the garden back to the real world you have to pass through the Palace via the ‘Grand Entrance’ as it is known. As we did liveried staff watched to make sure that we didn’t nick the family silver. Last year over 4000 of the spoons used at the garden parties went on walkabout never to be seen again so we could understand their concern. Not that we would do such a thing, us being Cubs (by Royal Appointment) and all!
On Thursday 16th July a small party of Cubs and Scouts from the 1st St Margaret Scout Group joined 3,200 other young people from various uniformed youth organisations at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace to help launch “YOU London” - a project to promote positive activities for all young people in London and to recruit adult leaders and helpers. We were proud to be invited, Ma’am.
– from Martyn Day