I went to a garden party….in honor of the Queen’s 70th Jubilee on Jun 4. Canada is a commonwealth country, so I grew up singing God Save the Queen in grade school, along with our national anthem, Oh Canada. One of my very first memories is of the Queen’s visit to my city in 1959, although as a wee tyke of three I wouldn’t have had any idea of who she was, but I do vaguely remember standing on the riverbank near the church watching the Royal Yacht glide by. All I knew was an important person was onboard, so we had to wait…and wave.
So when I read that the city was throwing a garden party in honour of the queen’s 70th anniversary on the throne, I went straight to the website to sign-up…..but the registration was already full, as the event was limited to only two hundred people. So I spoke to a very nice lady at city hall who put us on the waiting list, whereby I happened to mention that my mother at 96 was the exact same age as the Queen. (I’m not without my devious ways.) A few days later an invitation arrived via email – Hear Ye, Hear Ye – you have been added to the Queen’s guest list. Attendees were encouraged to dress up and wear a hat, including vintage 50’s styles from the era of the Queen’s visit.
Attendance was limited at this exclusive event as they wanted to model it after the Queen’s own garden parties. She holds three every year on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and one in Scotland – a tradition dating back to the time of Queen Victoria in the 1860’s. The parties are by invitation only and fancy dress is required. Tea, scones and cake are served to about 10,000 people. It’s a way for the Queen to recognize and reward public service, and a chance for her to mingle. This year due to mobility issues, other members of the royal party filled in. Here’s a link to more information about the Queen’s annual Garden Party.
The day of the party dawned warm and sunny, with a delightful breeze – one of those perfect June days you so seldom see anymore. The venue was a public park with beautiful gardens (I posted about Plein Air Painting here in Sept. 2019 when the flowers were at their peak) and we walked through the arbour strung with hanging baskets to the registration desk.
Chairs were set up under the large shade trees for the required speeches, with every stripe of politician represented – federal, provincial, municipal. A pipe band opened the ceremonies.
And then to the food tent – we snagged a table in the shade. The food was wonderful…..the traditional tea party fare.
The sandwiches – salmon, tuna, egg, cucumber – were all excellent. I tried my first cucumber sandwich – where else can you find a cucumber sandwich but at a tea party! And scones of course, and all kinds of dessert squares, and cookies, including these special Union Jack ones.
These individually wrapped souvenirs were sugar cookies with royal icing – almost too pretty to eat, but I managed.
There were macrons in red, white and blue. I’m always disappointed by macrons, as they look better than they taste, and aren’t they French?
There was tons of food left-over, as witnessed by the trays of sandwiches behind the tables, so I hope the food bank benefited.
There was no cost for the tickets as the event was paid for by a heritage grant, but I wonder if some of the people who RSVP’d forgot to show up, or changed their minds, although there did seem to be a good crowd there, including a few people who were walking through the park and asked if they could join in.
The table décor was lovely, and a few lucky souls got to take the centrepieces home.
I really liked these royal blue satin tablecloths.
There were flags,
and tents. Nothing says fancy summer party like a white tent.
It was fun to check out people’s outfits, and their hats.
I wore a floral yellow dress from the 80’s, and got several comments on it, but sensibly wore flat sandals, although I did see a few people tottering around on impossibly high heels, sinking into the grass. I’m too old for that and too afraid I’ll fall over and break something. I needed the sweater because it was cool enough in the shade, and also to cover my arms, as I don’t do sleeveless anymore. It felt strange to wear a dress again, for the first time in five years. I wasn’t too happy with my hat, an old straw relic also from the 80’s, but didn’t have time to look for anything else. Plus, I think those fascinators are silly things on most people.
A vintage clutch purse which closes with a satisfying click, like all 50’s style purses do, including the Queen’s. She has over 200 of her iconic brand, in many colors. It’s rumored that she sends secret signals to her staff with her purse, shifting it’s location to indicate that she wishes to be rescued from a conversation or wants a dinner to wrap up.
And pearls of course, there were lots of pearls in evidence.
After lunch, there was an enactment of the Queen’s life put on by a local theatre group, with various members representing the queen at different stages in her career. No matter what people might think of the monarchy, there’s no denying the Queen has lived a long life of dignified service, not to mention surviving all those family scandals. She must be a woman of fortitude, strength and resilience.
Afterwards, we wandered through the garden pathways admiring the baskets, although the flower beds themselves were just newly planted.
All in all, it was a beautiful day and a wonderful party. Long live the Queen!