The Master Management Consultant agreed to organize lunch for us all and fifty of us had a delightful lunch in a private room at Rubens Hotel, located close to the Palace. Many thanks to Noorzaman Rashid and his Clerk for all their efforts in arranging a very successful start to the day!
At 3.00pm we processed from the hotel to the Palace (see photograph of immaculately groomed gardens opposite the Palace) and entered the very tight security cordon surrounding the event. Two photo ID’s were required to accompany each personal invitation and this together with the sight of armed Police Officers on the roof, gave considerable comfort to what is a large gathering of (circa 3,000) people.
On walking through three rooms in the Palace we emerged down the steps and into the beautifully maintained garden. With the sun shining and a military band playing, this was Britain at its best. We took the opportunity to walk around the very extensive grounds and lake (photograph shows the view of the Palace looking across the lake and sight of one of the tea tents). We met some old business friends who were as surprised to see us as we were them! We also saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he looked too pre-occupied to stop and chat.
At 4.00pm we gathered near the foot of the stairs leading into the garden and awaited the arrival of the Queen and Prince Philip. They arrived, with military precision, exactly on time and looked sprightly and well. (See photograph of the Queen and Prince Philip as they arrived). After the National Anthem, they descended the stairs (accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Kent) and made their way along the carefully choreographed lines of guests stopping to speak to a few key individuals who had been pre-selected for presentation.
At this point we headed off to the tea tent for a selection of finely cut sandwiches, raspberry tarts and chocolate éclairs all washed down with an iced coffee. We found an empty table and sat in the afternoon sunshine enjoying the food, the atmosphere and many interesting people to chat to. A further stroll around the gardens followed (see photograph of Fiona, Alexander and me) and all too soon, the military band played the National Anthem and the Royal Party retreated into the Palace at 6.00pm.
This was the signal that it was time to leave and we headed back through the Palace and out onto The Mall for our waiting car. We all received many admiring and confused glances from the tourists outside the Palace, who must have wondered what on earth was going on!
A truly memorable afternoon for all three of us.