Hidden Gems – Tea party at the Palace
Everyone around the World knows that our Queen lives in Buckingham Palace and they are very familiar with images of the Palace from the front showing the iron gates and the Guards in their red uniforms. What they may not know is that behind the palace there is a garden that extends to 42 acres of wonderful plants, trees and lakes.
The gardens are not open to the public so the only way to see them is to be invited by the Royal Family to attend one of the Garden Parties that the Queen hosts three times a year in July for invited dignitaries and special guests. I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to one of these events and together with my wife we travelled down to London and stayed in a fine hotel in Victoria on Buckingham Gate which runs along one side of Buckingham Palace. At 2 p.m the following day we queued with the other invited guest at the entrance and our credentials were checked by some very charming security men who then allowed us to enter the grounds. Our way into the Gardens was through the ground floor of the Palace itself and the state rooms we passed through were magnificent.
The gardens are truly beautiful and if you are a keen gardener, like my wife and I, then the whole planting and layout is fascinating. It was nice to see that many areas had been planted with wildflower meadows which attracted a large number of bees and butterflies – not a common sight in the centre of London and quite inspirational. There is a fine lake in the middle that teems with wildlife of all sorts - amazing. You could have been anywhere it was so private and secluded and although you could see some of the tallest buildings from the grounds, you didn’t feel that the city was imposing on your privacy and enjoyment.
The whole event was wonderfully orchestrated and everything ran to a very detailed plan. Security was there of course but in such a way as to be very much in the background and not intrusive at all.
We were very fortunate to see both the Queen and Prince Phillip and had a very memorable and enjoyable afternoon. Then back to the Hotel in Victoria and home the next day. Buckingham Palace does allow visitors into the Queen’s Gallery in the Royal Mews where you can see some of the art and paintings that the monarch puts on public display but to see the gardens was something special. There are a large number of hotels in Victoria all very close to Buckingham Palace and most of these are of excellent quality.
Buckingham Palace Gardens must be the ultimate hidden gem and we feel very privileged to have been invited to see these gardens that are usually closed to the public.