Earlier in the summer, two members of staff enjoyed tea and cakes in one of the most beautiful gardens in the country when they attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 20 July.
Aspects caught up with Paul Hughes (Chemical Services Technician, CEAC) and Peter Burcher (Head of Operations and Management, ABS) who represented Aston at the event, to find out how they got on at perhaps one of the most relaxed Royal events.
Every summer, The Queen hosts at least three Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. Garden Parties have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860s, when Queen Victoria instituted what were known as 'breakfasts' (though they took place in the afternoon).Over the years they have evolved into a way of rewarding and recognising public service. They take place between 4 pm and 6pm, although the Palace gates are open from 3pm. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by other members of the Royal Family, enter the garden at 4pm, when the National Anthem is played.
The Royal family circulate among the guests through 'lanes' which are peculiar to Royal garden parties. Each takes a different route and random presentations are made so that everyone has an equal chance of speaking to Her Majesty and members of her family. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family eventually arrive at the Royal tea tent, where they meet further guests.
Peter recalls: “Despite the long queue for the security checks, we were soon through the gates, walking through the Palace to the wonderful gardens where we were greeted by the sound of two military bands who played a wonderful selection of music throughout the afternoon.
“We were lucky enough to be on the front row when the Royal Family arrived and the Queen walked past. It was a very memorable day and I am indebted to whoever nominated me to go.”
Paul told me “This was the most unexpected surprise for me and it was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were able to meet so many interesting people from all walks of life. What surprised me was the sheer scale of the gardens and the fact that you cannot hear the traffic, despite being in the centre of London! I’d also never seen so many sandwiches before and the food was delicious.” Aspects has discovered that at a typical garden party, around 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake are consumed!
“At 6pm, the National Anthem was played again to mark the end of the party and The Queen and the Royal party left the garden. We left by walking through the Palace, stopping to admire the state rooms as we passed, before exiting out of the front of the Palace – what a fantastic experience!”
Words by Louise Russell