I was thrilled to be invited to the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace Edinburgh on 3rd July.
The Queen, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were in attendance as were 8,000 other people.
Invitations came out a month in advance. Most guests are invited due to having a role in public services, the armed forces, youth work or for humanitarian work. I saw two dogs who were both Labradors wearing service uniform. I was invited due to my General Practice work which I have been doing in Mauchline Scotland for the last 32 years. I am retiring from this aspect of my career in January next year.
The weather was great. Sunny, a little cloud and not too hot. Despite floods the week before and rain a couple of days later, we managed to hit a sweet spot. The grass had dried out too so was good underfoot. The ground didn’t turn into a quagmire in other words.
Organisation was very slick and the large group of guests were ushered in via three entrances well staffed by police to allow security checks. Tea and food pavilions were well laid out with about 15 stations in each of two rectangular open marquees.
The toilet facilities were portaloos of a very good standard and most importantly there was about four times the number of cabins for women as men. This meant that the queues were always similar for each gender. Someone has done the maths! Theatres and other public venues take note! Additionally they had guest wranglers who made sure that everyone came in and out of the cabins in the most efficient manner possible.
Music was provided by two different military bands. One male and one female. The Queen’s bodyguard were in attendance. These old gentlemen had long arrows with them and each had a golden eagle feather in their caps. They were very helpful and interesting to talk to.
There was a good choice of snacks and drinks. Tea, cold coffee, water, and apple juice. Cucumber sandwiches, salmon on oatcake, chocolate cake, Victoria sponge and macaroons for example. Unfortunately all were wheaty and carby so I didn’t have anything to eat. Surprisingly I only saw one seagull the whole time.
People were dressed as if they were going to a wedding. Fascinators dominated the women’s heads compared to the hats by about 7 to one. The gardeners must have been delighted to get the lawns aerated by about 8,000 high heels. By 5 pm many women were nursing their sore feet and walking about in their stocking soles.
There were many uniforms in evidence and some top hats from the men in morning suits. It was evident that a lot of people knew each other. This didn’t work out for myself and my husband. Although we knew of three other couples who were going, we never managed to see them.
The day started at 3pm. The Queen came down the steps from the palace at 4pm and the national anthem was played. We left at around 5.10pm. I understand that the Queen leaves at 6pm and the national anthem is played again.
Our vantage point for the Queen’s entrance was at a higher point in the garden. Thus we had a good view of her and the group, but we were so far away that we couldn’t have identified anyone except for the colour of clothes they had on. The Queen wore pink. Anne wore Aquamarine, Nicola wore white. Andrew and Edward wore morning suits. They all had umbrellas. No doubt they had been caught out before.
This was an interesting and memorable day.