As much of the world already knows Queen Elizabeth is now 90 years old. Perhaps fewer people know that she is the patron of over 600 charitable organisations. To celebrate her birthday and her patronage an event called The Patron’s Lunch was held on the Mall. Representatives of the organisations for which the Queen is patron were invited to a picnic hamper lunch on Sunday 12th June and as Julie is a fellow and past Vice President of the Royal Entomological Society she was invited and kindly I was invited to go along too. It was a kind offer because tickets that were not used by charities were put up for sale at £150 each.
We read the literature that was sent out and avoided prohibited items such as large cameras, rucksacks etc. We were not allowed umbrellas either but the organisers said, light heartedly, that they had ordered sunny weather anyway so we wouldn’t need them. Their order must have got lost in the post. We began queuing at 10.30 ish in the pouring rain. The queue was long and we were all getting wet. Two young ladies were behind us wearing skimpy summer clothing and shielding their heads with plastic flags. But they were in good spirits and we had a joke. People were using anything they could to keep the rain off. A few places in the front it seemed the lady got the kagoul and the man got the bag it had been in.
But the event was well organised and helpful people soon worked their way along the line to hand out rain ponchos. Julie wrapped up against the elements
But Julie and I joined another queue for a cup of tea and after a while of being British about it all, it started to fair up a bit and people’s hoods began to come down. Perhaps we would get some dry weather.
All the same there must have been an awful lot of rain which had fallen. At one point I think I saw the royal yacht Britannia floating by down the Mall
But first things first, there was a bit more queuing to do. Included in the day was a hamper picnic lunch provided by Marks and Spencer. We were surprised to receive a proper wicker hamper and were intrigued to see what it contained.
It was excellent and there were sandwiches, salmon, butterfly cakes, pork pie, Pimms. chicken roulade salad. Someone had got it right as can be said for the whole day.
We chatted with our companions and ate our lunch. Tea was provided free all day as well as ice creams, which I am sure would have gone better if we had had warmer weather.
The celebration was in the form of a procession in different parts each representing a different decade and different charities. There was a theme to each part, one of which was the yacht Britannia but also there was nature, technology and a special one for the 90’s in the queens 90th birthday year. Everyone was interested to see the procession and listen to the band which accompanied each part
After the parade had passed by for the first time there was a pause as we awaited the royal family to arrive. By now the weather was positively summery and a few of us were wearing sunglasses
The younger members of the royal family arrived in cars, alighted and began to walk along the Mall saying words to us guests. They started at either end and worked their way towards the middle. We were in the middle. Despite being chivvied along to make good speed and speak to as many people as possible Kate and William at one end and Harry at the other appear to have spent too long speaking to people to make it to the middle and we didn’t get to speak with them. However, Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips made a point of coming to the middle and speaking to people. He had been the managing director of the event and I can say he did a good job. He also seemed a nice person taking a selfie of himself with a couple standing just by us and wishing everyone well.
After the younger royals were called back, the Queen arrived in her car and drove slowly up the Mall waving to us all. She didn’t do a walkabout like the others. She is 90 afterall. She looked me directly in the eye as she passed. I got a nice video of her and the Duke.
After some speeches from Claire Balding and Prince William the royals got back in their cars and drove slowly past us again.
It was a highlight of the day.
The procession passed us again afterwards and the weather was now warm and thoroughly more enjoyable than expected at 10.30 am. But all good things come to an end and soon it was time to make our way to Victoria train station and our way home to Canterbury. Even that was painless, though it was slow and busy because many of the 10,000 attendants and thousands more helpers were also making their ways home, there was no fuss and no drama. We made it in good time for our train and it was fairly empty too. So we had a pleasant trip home with our hampers and shoulder bags. The shoulder bags were provided by Boots and contained sun cream (optimistic) lip balm, skin care products, plasters, and lots more. We were both impressed by the day, it organisation, the lunch and most of all the royal family. I may become a royalist!