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The Inside Story Of My First Annual Garden Party At Buckingham Palace

Summer extravaganza means the Annual Garden Party at the Buckingham Palace. And yes, it’s as fabulous as they say.

It is that time of the year, with the Royal Garden party season in full swing. A perfect time for a summer extravaganza. Every year, the Royal Family invites to Buckingham Palace a select group of distinguished people who have made significant contributions to their local communities and to our country. Ladies are running around to find a perfect hat that goes with their outfit and gentlemen, although they appear to be more relaxed about it, secretly shop for a bespoke suit to match this truly special occasion.

The Garden Party is not just an ordinary event on the Britain’s social calendar. It is an event that people cherish for their lifetime, as it is a part of history and old traditions that all guests are making each year. It feels special to be recognised and rewarded for the public service in this way and even more so, for being able to celebrate among the Royals  in this elevated way.

Historically, The Queen hosts three Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, and one at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland. The tradition goes back to 1897 and this year, the first Garden Party at Buckingham Palace was held on May 15th. The second one will be on Tuesday, May 21st.

My Very First Royal Garden Party

Last year,  my husband Andrew and I went to my very first Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. It was a wonderful, sunny day, that was somewhat unusual for this time of the year. I was in the early stage of pregnancy and my bump was starting to show.

On the day of the Garden Party, Parliament was in session, and the vote went longer than planned. I was all dressed up, yes with the hat, sitting and waiting for Andrew to pick me up to go to the Buckingham Palace. He was late a with other MPs who were invited to the Garden Party.

Because of the late vote at Westminster, we all missed the beginning of the party when The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh accompanied by other members of the Royal Family entered the garden at 4 pm followed by the national anthem played by military bands.

The black cab dropped us at the closest possible point to the security parameter of the Buckingham Palace. We cut the crowd of Royal fans who gathered in front of the entrance and we walked through this massive gate that tourists know so well. The gate that shows up on the pictures of everyone who to visit London.

A perfect day for a striking fascinator

While I was balancing my walk on the gravel path that runs along the side, stepping forward in my not overly high heels (note to self and others: never wear high heels for this event) the wind was playing with my perfectly attached hat. One more reason to love Garden Party is that you can wear the hat or a fascinator and not feel out of place with it. It is actually a requirement to wear it.

Nevena Bridgen at the Royal Garden Party

We stepped onto the greenest and tidiest lawn ever that exploded in front of us stretching over 150 meters all the way to the lake. The main lawn is used not only for annual parties but also as a helicopter pad for the Royals. The garden layout is reflecting 1825, William Townsend Aiton, a gentleman standing next to our me.

I instantly felt like I am transported into some literary classic. It wasn’t a period drama, but it certainly felt like it. The level of peace and ease,  laid back all over me; the effortless elegance that this fantastic green space was illuminating. People gathered around in little groups, under the tents queuing for sandwiches, cakes, and tea, or enjoying the music of the bands that were lightly entertaining us. Some couples were brave to dance. Not my husband, he doesn’t do the dance I am afraid.

Andrew and Nevena Bridgen

We took a little tour of the Palace that was open for cruising, met a lot of lovely people from all around the country, talked and enjoyed the company of Andrew’s colleagues and in particular MP Daniel Kawczynski’s wit. The guests have eaten sandwiches in no time, you couldn’t find almost any, so we had an ice cream that I particularly enjoyed as a pregnant lady.

The Queen and her entourage left the Royal tent and energetically walked back to mark the coming end of the party. She wore a perfect two green costume and shades. The Queen is 93 years old but the energy she gives away is incredible.

As the Queen’s Garden Party came to end, I was off to No 11 for the gathering of Wives and Partners our lovely Susan Hammond was ing.

That day I will cherish as a day of love, laughter, friendship, and good weather.

Philp May and Nevena Bridgen
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