Each year, a staggering 30,000 people attend one of The Queen's Garden Parties. Taking place just across the road from Hotel 41, in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, these summertime events celebrate people from all backgrounds who have been a force for good in their local communities. The Garden Parties date back to the 1860s, and today the Queen holds an impressive three Garden Parties a year at Buckingham Palace as well as one at Holyrood House in Scotland.
For a glimpse of what the early Garden Parties would have been like, take a look at the oil painting, The Garden Party at Buckingham Palace by Laurits Regner Tuxen. Here, Queen Victoria and Alexandra, Princess of Wales, can be seen riding in an open carriage through Buckingham Palace gardens, whilst the Prince of Wales can be seen talking to a couple amongst the crowds. The party depicted is one celebrating the Queen's Jubilee in 1897, with Danish painter Tuxen chosen to record the momentous occasion for posterity.
Originally intended to replace the traditional debutantes' balls, the Garden Parties are now an opportunity to celebrate and reward those who have devoted their lives to public service.
Moreover, a Garden Party is held annually for the Not Forgotten Association, which provides help and support for sick or injured ex-servicemen and women. The Queen also gives permission for additional parties to be held, including previous events organised to mark the Territorial Army's 100th Anniversary as well as the 50th birthday of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.
The guests invited to attend a Garden Party are chosen by a well-established, countrywide network of government department, societies, associations, services and religious organisations. This group puts forward their suggestions and, in this way, The Queen is able to invite a fair and wide cross section of people to each party.
Garden Parties typically start at 3pm, when the public can wander through the Palace gates and into the immaculately kept gardens. However, the event officially starts with the arrival of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, who are often accompanied by other members of the Royal Family. The national anthem is played by a live band and The Queen and Duke begin to circulate amongst the guests. Each Royal family member mingles in 'lanes,' taking a different route to the others in order to have a chance to speak to as many people as possible. Dressing up for the party is a highlight for many guests, with gentlemen donning morning dress or lounge suits and women wearing elegant fascinators or hats. A traditional Afternoon Tea is served to guests at every Garden Party, with over 27,000 cups of tea, 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 slices of cake consumed at each event.
Witness all the action taking place at Buckingham Palace this summer, when you stay at Hotel 41 or Rubens at the Palace, which are located opposite the Royal Mews and a short four minute walk away from the Palace itself.