Every August and September, the Queen of England kindly heads out of town and opens the doors of Buckingham Palace to the thousands of commoners from around the world eager to get a glimpse into royal life behind the gates.
Wanting to make the most of the activity (and feeding all of our royal curiosities), we committed to a full day at the Palace. In the Mews, – which after seeing almost every other street in our town called that, I finally learned is a fancy word for garage/stables that originates from the days of keeping falcons – carriages previously seen in royal processions on TV were suddenly within arms reach and more spectacular and intricate than any screen could suggest. E was quick to show Dad just which coach she would like to be presented in and reminded him that it would also require those pretty ponies she’s been asking for…Oh, does our little princess have her father wrapped around her finger.
The Queen’s Gallery presented an incredible array of maps depicting kingdoms and war strategies of old as well as beautiful artwork, furnishings, and trinkets enjoyed by generations of royals. While the others obediently followed the audio tour, E and I took a slightly different path…singing and dancing (read squealing and running) through the halls, getting our fingerprints on more glass cases than we even should have been allowed to get near, and almost testing out the royal piano – frustrated glares from the security guards were aplenty. But hey, when you’re only invited into the Palace once in a lifetime, you may as well create fun memories, right?
No surprise, the Staterooms in the Palace are the main attraction (or that photography was not permitted). Hundreds of people lined up to filter through the airport-style security screening and slowly wade their way through the sea of people to see the great halls adorned with incredible paintings, imagine sitting at that expansive table for an evening of dining with the royals or dream of being greeted by the Queen herself in one of the ornate receiving rooms.
The best part of the tour, for us, was this year’s theme: Royal Childhood. As we passed through the rooms, posters of official wedding pictures, birthday parties, and quiet moments shared by cousins reading together on the floor of the great hall were displayed. Childhood toys, outfits, baby blankets, doll houses, bikes and wagons were arranged behind glass windows while black and white home videos played on big screens. Though I’m sure all of those incriminating and embarrassing moments were kindly omitted, the family pictures, innocent joking and laughter caught on film and personal mementos provided a very personal and humble atmosphere. You just couldn’t help but fall in love with the royal family!
We finished the tour with a nice cup of coffee on the back veranda overlooking the lawn of the Palace and made sure to get our tickets stamped before leaving – free admission next year? Check! Rumor has it that next year’s theme is “Royal Gowns!” Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe may not be my “go to” style, but a chance to see the dresses worn by such icons as Princess Di and the Duchess? I can’t wait! And Troy, on the other hand, just might finally be ready to stay home and babysit E by the time this event roles around…too early to plan a girls’ day out?? ;0)