Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Buckingham Palace Garden [Tea] Parties

Yesterday's post focused on the Coronation Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II, and several Internet photos depicting tea's dominant role in the Monarch's life.

Today's post is about the Queen's Buckingham Palace Garden [Tea] Parties.  

Garden parties have been held at Buckingham Palace since the 1860's when the Queen's great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, instituted what were known as 'breakfasts' that were held in the afternoon.

Since the 1950's, Queen Elizabeth II has hosted three Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace every summer to reward and recognize those in public service.  Individuals cannot request an invitation to attend.  The government, Lord-Lieutenants and organizations such as the Civil Service, Armed Services, Diplomatic Corps, charities, and societies all receive quotas for nominations and recommendations.

The Garden Parties are from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., although the Palace gates are opened around 3:00 p.m., for the guests to stroll the Royal Gardens [which span almost 40 acres!].  The Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by other members of the Royal Family, enter the garden at 4:00 p.m. as the National Anthem ["God Save the Queen"] is played.  Then they circulate among the approximately 8,000 guests, eventually making their way to the Royal tea tent where special guests and dignitaries await their arrival. 

Plentiful refreshments are served from long buffet tables in guest tea tents.  At a typical garden party, about 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 tea sandwiches, and 20,000 slices of cake are consumed, requiring a wait staff of about 400!  One guest wrote that the tea sandwich selections were cucumber, smoked salmon, and scrambled egg [crustless, of course], while the delicious array of cakes included Victoria sponge and miniature Battenbergs, plus mini-tarts, pastries and scones.  

[Internet Photo - Courtesy of Buckingham Palace Press Office]

I read [but I don't know how valid it is] that they prepare enough small tea sandwiches to allow 14 per person, plus desserts.  Yikes!  That's a lot!

Around 6:00 p.m. the Queen and Royal Family leave the garden, when the National Anthem is played again to mark the end of the party.  

The garden tea parties are said to be a highlight of the Queen's calendar.

The Queen at a recent 2013 Buckingham Palace Garden Party

  Royal Family Members at a 2013 Garden Party
L-R:  Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge

Front:  Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip.  
Back: Granddaughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Princess Royal [Anne], & Prince Andrew

Princess Beatrice of York, and her sister Princess Eugenie

2012 Buckingham Palace Garden Party

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall & Prince Charles

The Radiant Queen!

Her Majesty mingling with the guests.

Kate mingling with the guests.

For those fortunate enough to be invited to one of the Queen's Garden Parties, it's a never-to-be forgotten experience!

From across the pond, I'm lifting my teacup in tribute to the Queen!


  1. It would be such fun to attend one of these special events! Some day perhaps!

  2. Oh, I hadn't read anything yet about this year's garden parties, so this was especially fun! (I like to fantasize that I will be invited by the Queen to attend one day!)

  3. Now this would be a delightful tea party to be invited to.


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